Mechanical Engineer and Academic

Mechanical Engineer and Academic

Born: October 24, 1943; Died: April 19, 2014.

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Dr David Kynd Brown, who has died aged 70 following a short illness, was a mechanical engineer, an academic and an author whose commitment to both Glasgow and Strathclyde universities spanned his entire career.

He attended Kelvinside Academy, where he excelled in mathematics and science, although he had a great interest in languages. On the rugby field he was also a formidable second-row forward ,where he brought his considerable weight and commitment to bear with great effect. He gained good qualifications and in 1961 he proceeded to Glasgow University to study mechanical engineering.

University suited him. He was awarded an engineering scholarship by Denny's Shipbuilders, of Dumbarton, and embarked on the mechanical engineering course, which he loved. He also gained work experience in Barclay Curle Workshop in South Street, Glasgow, and in Zultzer's in Switzerland.

He graduated with first-class honours, and as a postgraduate he spent two years with James Howden and Co Ltd before returning to Glasgow University as a lecturer. He completed his PhD in 1972 and then undertook a professional exchange visit to Rhode Island, USA, for a year to broaden his experience and extend his professional contacts.

On his return to Glasgow David continued his work as a senior lecturer, and subsequently he was appointed director of enterprise at Glasgow University and a member of the university senate. He took responsibility for launching a degree course in technological education with Jordanhill College of Education.

Now a chartered engineer, he served as the first chairman of the Scottish region of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and became a member of The Royal Institution of Naval Architects. In parallel with his university career, he, with colleagues, set up a consultancy company which undertook detailed analysis of metal failure.

It was perhaps in his role as a supervisor and mentor of postgraduate students that his intellect, ability, commitment and compassion blended best. Many students benefited from his guidance and encouragement while preparing their PhD thesis.

In February 1996 he took early retirement from Glasgow University and was snapped up by the University of Strathclyde, where he founded and managed the West of Scotland Unit of Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Under his direction, the unit prospered and KTP became one of the top five such centres in the UK.

Although he was a gifted academic, his sense of commitment was always evident in his extra-mural activities too. As a young boy he joined the 1st Bearsden Company of The Boys' Brigade in 1955. He gained his Queen's Badge when still a private. The annual BB concerts were even then a regular feature of Bearsden life and he became (somewhat to his own surprise) a regular soloist, first as a boy soprano, later as a "sort of" tenor - and also in the difficult years between. There were also numerous BB camps where he featured prominently. They were happy times.

He learned to play the bagpipes in the BB and became a good piper. Subsequently he was invited to play the pipes on many important occasions - at weddings and other functions, and particularly at Burns suppers in this country and in many others. He was invited to play in Iceland several times and played in the Grand Canyon and later in Beverly Hills at Christmas and on the The Strip in Las Vegas at Hogmanay 2003/4.

When he reached the age limit as a boy he served as a BB officer, as a piping instructor and also as a pipe major. He led many boys to a love of piping and taught the bagpipes until 1985 - a continuous commitment of more than 30 years.

In retirement, which was short, he retained many interests. With his wife Caroline, he enjoyed travelling and built up a remarkable collection of magnificent photograph albums. Among other activities he enjoyed walking with The Old Foggies - a group of five BB boys who had been very close friends for many years.

A lesser-known aspect of his life was as an author and composer. He composed many pipe tunes for special occasions, and while at university he wrote a textbook on his specialist engineering interests.

He was a man of faith and had no fear of death. He had been confirmed as a communicant member of the Church of Scotland in 1961 and he served as an elder in New Kilpatrick Parish Church, Bearsden, for many years, having been ordained in 1979.

Despite his continuing strong faith he had concerns about the defining of faith and beliefs by institutionalised churches. He believed that such definitions were limiting. His thoughts and ideas on this are set out in his most recent book, entitled And Man created God... and Infinity. The sub-title is significant: A Personal Witness of Faith. In this book, which is not yet published, he exhorts all people, especially believers in God or gods, "to meet and seek out common ground (and) to co-exist in mutual understanding".

He treated everyone the same way and evinced a warm and open personality and a wonderful sense of humour and always looked for the best in people. His ebullient greeting, invariably accompanied by his warm smile and outstretched hand, will be remembered and that memory will be treasured. In every part of his life he gave a full commitment. He engaged actively with people and therefore he achieved a great deal.

He is survived by his wife Caroline and his daughters Kara and Jill.