The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Allan J. Acosta

Acosta, Allan J. (1998) Interview with Allan J. Acosta. [Oral History]

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


An interview in four sessions, in April and May 1994, with Allan James Acosta, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, emeritus, in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. Acosta received his undergraduate and graduate education at Caltech (BS, 1945; MS, 1949; PhD, 1952). He joined the Caltech faculty in 1954 and became a full professor in 1966 and Hayman Professor in 1990. In this interview, he discusses growing up in Southern California during the depression and his early interest in science and engineering; his war service in the U.S. navy, including the navy's V-12 program at Caltech, and his observation of the first A-bomb blasts at Bikini Atoll. After his discharge from the service in September 1946, Acosta returned to Caltech and was hired as an engineer by R.T. Knapp, head of Caltech's Hydraulic Machinery Laboratory, which was then testing pumps developed by the Byron Jackson Co. of Los Angeles for Washington State's Grand Coulee Irrigation District. After a year, he became a graduate student. He discusses the Hydraulic Machinery Laboratory, established by Knapp in the early 1930s, the establishment of the related Hydrodynamics Laboratory during the war, its evolution under Milton Plesset, and its connections with the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory (GALCIT). He discusses his work in fluid mechanics and heat transfer and his association with mechanical engineering colleagues Rolf Sabersky, Duncan Rannie, Frank Marble, and Edward Zukoski, and later with Christopher E. Brennen. He discusses the history of GALCIT, and his work for the Fluids Engineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers [ASME]. He comments on the evolution of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech. The interview closes with reminiscences of some of his PhD students.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:mechanical engineering, fluid dynamics, cavitation
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Acosta_A
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Allan J. Acosta. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, April and May 1994. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Engineering
ID Code:125
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:07 May 2007
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 18:57

Repository Staff Only: item control page