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Interview with Christopher E. Brennen

Brennen, Christopher (2011) Interview with Christopher E. Brennen. [Oral History]

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An interview in three sessions, November-December 2002, with Christopher E. Brennen, Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering, emeritus, in the Engineering Division. Dr. Brennen, a native of Northern Ireland who eventually became a U.S. citizen, received his undergraduate and graduate education at Oxford (PhD 1967) and came to Caltech as a postdoc in 1969 with Theodore Y. Wu, after a stint with George Gadd at the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory. At Caltech, he was a research fellow, senior research fellow, and research associate before being appointed associate professor in 1976. He became a full professor in 1982 and received the Hayman chair in 2005, becoming emeritus in 2010. From 1993 to 1998, he was executive officer for mechanical engineering. Dr. Brennen discusses his early work with Wu on locomotion of ciliated microorganisms and his later collaborations with Allan Acosta, Milton Plesset, and Rolf Sabersky, among others. He recalls his early teaching duties and emphasizes his concern with the welfare of Caltech’s undergraduates, in his role as master of student houses (1983-1987), dean of students (1988-1992), and vice president for student affairs (1998-2002). Describes atmosphere at Caltech during the Vietnam War and the height of the drug culture. Concludes with an overview of the careers of his own graduate students and expresses his hope that Caltech will continue working to attract top-level undergraduates.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Mechanical engineering, student affairs
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Brennen_C
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Copyright has been assigned to the California Institute of Technology © 2005, 2011. All requests for permission to publish or quote from the transcript must be submitted in writing to the Head, Archives and Special Collections.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:All Records
Subjects > Administration
Subjects > Engineering
ID Code:194
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:22 Nov 2011 00:16
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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