In Memoriam: Mack Gilkeson

Known for his innovative ideas and kindness, Gilkeson taught engineering at Harvey Mudd for 26 years.

Share story

Mack GilkesonEngineering Innovator

The Harvey Mudd community mourns the loss of Murray Mack Gilkeson who died in April. Known for his innovative ideas and kindness, Gilkeson taught engineering at Harvey Mudd for 26 years.

Gilkeson was born Feb. 8, 1922 in Augusta, Kansas. He received chemical engineering degrees from University of Southern California (B.E.), Kansas State University (M.S., 1947) and University of Michigan (M.S.E., 1951, and PhD, 1952).

Before HMC, Gilkeson worked for the U.S. Navy as an engineering officer, then became a research assistant at the Engineering Research Institute at University of Michigan. After serving as an assistant professor at Tulane University for 10 years, he joined the HMC Department of Engineering faculty in 1961 and retired in 1987.

In addition to teaching, Gilkeson was instrumental in the growth and development of the engineering department. He is the co-founder and co-inventor of the Clinic Program, a hands-on approach to teaching engineering in which small teams of students are given real-life design problems to solve from industry partners. This program was controversial at first because its approach opposed conventional wisdom and went very much counter to then-prevailing thinking about engineering curricula. Even with these concerns Gilkeson proved it could work leading to other institutions using the Clinic Program model. In 2012, Gilkeson was co-winner of the National Association of Engineers Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, given to those who create and disseminate innovations in undergraduate engineering design education to develop engineering leaders.

Gilkeson served as a consultant for companies in the chemical and metallurgical engineering fields, assisted on legal cases involving metal failures and did industrial development work in Mexico, Brazil and India.

Continue Reading

All Articles