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Stevens Institute of Technology

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June 7, 2010

Davidson Lab 75th Anniversary Celebration

Members of the Stevens community and its partners, collaborators and friends joined in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Davidson Lab while remembering notable achievements and personal memories from those who have been so deeply involved in its growth.

The afternoon began in the Davidson Lab, with onlookers witnessing a series of demonstrations that illustrated the tanks hi-speed towing capabilities as well as a remote controlled unmanned underwater vehicle. Following the demonstrations was a personal look at the contributions and achievements by the facility and the individuals who made it possible.

As he spoke in the Babbio Atrium, Dr. Michael Bruno gave a brief history of the Davidson Lab, once known as the Experimental Towing Tank, which has played an integral role in so many momentous maritime achievements since its origins in May of 1931 as a series of experiments conducted by Kenneth S.M. Davidson.

As one of the first experimental towing tanks capable of evaluating scale models, this 101' long 9' deep and 4.5' wide facility is credited with designing the America's Cup winning J boat, "Ranger." Soon after construction, World War II began and the tank became devoted to the war effort and provided crucial understanding of ship maneuvering as well as seaplane dynamics. The Experimental Towing Tanks importance enabled the University to propose, and build within 9 months, a 313' long, 12' wide and 6' deep high-speed towing tank. The most advanced hi-speed towing tank in the world. As the years went by the Experimental Towing Tank continued playing a major role in many of the world’s most critical operations.

Shortly after Kenneth Davidson's death in 1958, the Experimental Towing Tank was re-dedicated as the Davidson Laboratory.

Some of the unique aspects of the 75th Anniversary of Davidson Lab were the personal stories coming from Stevens faculty members and collaborators on exactly why this facility was so special.

Dr. Michael Bruno, Feiler Chair Professor & Dean, School of Engineering & Science, is the former head of the Davidson Lab and pointed to a conversation he recently had with Ken Davidson's daughter. "Ken's daughter called me recently and wanted me to pass along congratulations on our 75th anniversary and to remember one thing: while what we have achieved is extraordinary, we must focus on the future - the best years still lie ahead."

As a member of the Stevens community since 1988, Dr. Bruno recounts the tremendous impact President Dr. Hal Raveche had on the restoration and continued growth of the lab. Dr. Bruno has been a renowned Professor and researcher here at Stevens while making tremendous accomplishments in the process. He, like Ken Davidson's daughter, is excited to see the future achievements of both researchers and students who become involved with this unique facility.

Provost and University Vice President Dr. George P. Korfiatis praised the Davidson Lab and reported that it's reputation was the deciding factor in his joining the Institute. Provost Korfiatis emphasized the importance of physical models even in a heavily computer-based simulation age and urged the audience to continuously strive for innovation and recognize the crucial importance of port security and national safety.

Dr. Daniel Savitsky, Professor Emeritus at Stevens, was the only attendee to have worked with Mr. Davidson first-hand. He looked back fondly on his experiences not only in the scientific sense, but also in his time spent with Mr. Davidson and the knowledge he took with him for the rest of his career.

"Kenneth Davidson was a dedicated, particular and gracious man. He often asked me, "are you having fun?" To him, time spent in the towing tank, whether it be working through a problem or making a monumental breakthrough was equally enjoyable. He loved the science, and had an innate ability to notice deviations in our tests and would often modify the scale-models on the fly. In addition to his scientific abilities, he constantly focused on team building and relationships. We formed incredible bonds which not only made the work enjoyable, but fostered collaboration and innovation - all keys upon which the University is built today."

In many ways, the sentiments at the Davidson ceremony echoed those of the University as a whole. Innovation and a continuous push for advancement is made possible through the efficient use of world-class facilities, faculty and academic programs. When these capabilities are focused on important societal issues and strengthened by powerful collaborative relationships, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about Davidson Labs, please visit the Center for Maritime Systems.

To view pictures of the event, please head to our Facebook page!

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Michael Bruno
Feiler Chair Professor & Dean, School of Engineering & Science
Edwin A. Stevens
Room E-216
Phone: 201.216.5338
Fax: 201.216.8214
mbruno@stevens.edu

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