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Obituary
John V. Wehausen

03 November 2005


John Wehausen
John Wehausen, professor emeritus of engineering science and one of the world's leading researchers in hydrodynamics, died of congestive heart failure on Oct. 6 at the Kaiser Oakland Medical Center. He was 92.

A memorial gathering is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the Great Hall of the Faculty Club.

Wehausen contributed original research in the areas of wave resistance, floating-system motions, ship maneuverability, and ship-generated solitary waves. At Berkeley he helped form the Department of Naval Architecture in 1958 with support from the Office of Naval Research. At the time, only three other U.S. institutions offered accredited degree programs in naval architecture. The department evolved in 1996 into a graduate group in ocean engineering, and this fall it became a major field of study within the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Wehausen was born Sept. 23, 1913, in Duluth, Minn., and earned his B.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics (plus an M.S. in physics) from the University of Michigan in the mid-1930s. He held teaching positions at Columbia University and the University of Missouri from 1938 to 1944. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, worked in naval research for four years, and was executive editor of the journal Mathematical Reviews before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1956. At Berkeley he developed the graduate degree program in naval architecture; the rigorous curriculum would eventually become a model for similar programs around the world. He retired from Berkeley in 1984, but remained active in research.

Wehausen was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. In June 2002 he was awarded the American Society of Mechanical Engineers International Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wehausen is survived by daughters Sarah Wikander and Julia Wenk of Berkeley; sons Peter Wehausen of Sebastopol and John Wehausen of Bishop; six grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

Memorial gifts can be made out to the UC Regents, John Wehausen Memorial Fund, c/o College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 201 McLaughlin Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1722. The funds will be used to establish a scholarship for graduate students studying marine hydrodynamics.

-Sarah Yang