May 31, 2017, by Shirlene Campbell Ritchie
A brilliant engineer and academic who stood out for the many contributions he made to the profession.
Described as a giant in his field by friends and colleagues, Professor Henry Power, Chair in Computational Fluid Dynamics in the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and deputy head of the thermo-fluids research group, passed away suddenly on 27th April.
Henry was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in August 1950. His career began in 1973 when he graduated from the Central University of Venezuela with a civil engineering degree. Starting out as a research fellow, in time, he went on to become a professor where he headed up the University’s Institute of Fluid Mechanics from 1991 to 1998. In 1991, he took a sabbatical and made his way to the UK. During the period between 1991 and 1998, he was on special leave from the university in Venezuela. While on sabbatical he was appointed as Head of the Advanced Computing Division of the Wessex Institute of Technology in Ashurst, Southampton, where he remained till 2000. In 2000, he joined the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering where he established a long and distinguished career spanning 17 years.
Blessed with a brilliant mathematical mind, he always felt that there was no problem that could not be looked at from a numerical point of view. Professor Steve Pickering, Head of the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and Hives Professor of Mechanical Engineering, remembers him as being ‘very passionate about his subject. He had a passion for trying to understand everything. Henry was a valued member of the Faculty and he always made sure engineering students were properly educated in mathematics.’
He taught modules on thermodynamics, advanced numerical techniques for engineers and covered turbo machinery, among a host of other topics. He studied porous medium simulation while developing the pioneering boundary element method and the maths behind it. When it came to computational techniques, Professor Power was a purist. He believed in developing his own numerical methods to go beyond the capabilities of commercial packages.
His research covered many areas of applied mathematics and he had numerous collaborators around the world. An outstanding researcher, his mathematical ability was matched by his phenomenal work rate. He authored over 300 academic papers and his interests covered the formulation and development of mathematical modelling in fluid dynamics across a broad area. He was exceptionally well versed in leading difficult areas of numerical modelling with the novel use of meshless boundary element methods and radial basis functions. His publications ranged from general fluid mechanics, waves, convective flows, flow in porous media to thin film flow. He also held an extensive personal collection of fluid mechanics books and sat on the editorial boards of Engineering Analysis with Boundary Elements and Computer Mathematics.
Close friend and collaborator, Professor Luiz Wrobel, who is Director of the Institute of Materials and Manufacturing at Brunel University, described Professor Power as ‘a very enthusiastic teacher and lecturer. I could see how happy he was at Nottingham, how much he enjoyed his work and how passionate he was about it. He was a brilliant academic, the best scientist I collaborated with, particularly in fluid mechanics.’
‘Henry was a complete engineer because he understood the physics – and the mathematics,’ he added.
Professor Power was generous with his time and he brought immense energy, enthusiasm and insight to his academic collaborations. He also showed great understanding, and extended his help and support to emerging researchers and postgraduate students, as well as new academic staff at Nottingham and other universities. More recently, his interests extended to problem evaluation involving uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis, which are becoming increasingly relevant to areas of industry and finance.
On a more personal note, Professor Power was very much a family man. He is survived by his wife, Beatriz, who teaches Spanish in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, and to whom he was married for 41 years, as well as his son, Guillermo and daughter, Coromoto. He was also the proud grandfather of two grandchildren.
Away from work, Professor Power enjoyed taking his grandchildren cycling on the Downs and watching them play. He loved going walking and taking trips to the park. He was also a keen sportsman who swam for an hour every day and if he wasn’t doing laps of the pool, he could be found working out in the gym.
Henry Power, engineer and scientist, was born on August 13, 1950. He died on April 27, 2017, aged 66.
Professor Henry Power to receive posthumous award
The 40th International Conference on Boundary Elements and Other Mesh Reduction Methods (BEM/18) along with the resulting special journal issue, will be dedicated to the memory of Professor Henry Power.
The organisers of the conference will posthumously award Professor Power the George Green Medal in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of boundary element methods. The medal is awarded to scientists who have carried out original work with practical applications in boundary element methods and further developed the pioneering ideas of George Green, the British mathematical physicist. The award was established by the University of Mississippi at Oxford, USA and the Wessex Institute, and is supported by Elsevier, the global information analytics company.
A member of Professor Power’s family will attend the conference on 12th September to accept the medal.
Professor Carlos A Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute commented, ‘Professor Power made many important contributions to his scientific field and helped to establish research groups all over the world. The George Green Medal is fitting recognition of Henry’s professional life throughout which he strove to generate new knowledge which could be used by many researchers as solutions to engineering problems.’