View Full Version : Obituary: Professor Robert M. Kenedi

unknown user
09-21-1998, 03:14 AM
Dear fellow Bioengineers/Biomechanicians:
With great sadness I received the news that on September 7th, 1998, a good friend and a great scientist, Professor Robert M. Kenedi, passed away. Professor Kenedi was the founder of the Bioengineering Unit at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland (Also known as the 'Wolfson Centre') and was the recipient of many national and international recognitions and awards.

Robert Kenedi was born in Hungary in 1921 and went to Glasgow in 1938 to study civil engineering at the University of Glasgow, from which he graduated with distinction in 1941. After spending two years as Alien on Auxiliary War Service in Britain, he was appointed (in 1943) Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering of the Royal College of Science and Technology in Glasgow, which later became the University of Strathclyde. Robert Kenedi spent the first ten years of his professional career working primarily on strength of materials related research, developing new applied knowledge and straingage technology for stress analysis in thin walled vessels, large spherical vessels and thin walled structures. Concurrently, he obtained his Ph.D. in structural engineering from Glasgow University in 1949. Only in 1962 he realized the potential of the application of his knowledge toward the analysis of the mechanical behavior of biological tissue. Together with Professor Tom Gibson, a prominent plastic surgeon from Glasgow, he developed an internationally renowned program in biological tissue mechanics.

In recognition of Robert Kenedi's bioengineering initiatives, in 1963, the Medical Research Council awarded in a unique fashion, to a non medical department, a grant for the institution of the Bioengineering Unit at Strathclyde. Robert Kenedi was appointed Professor and head of the unit. Subsequent donation of the Wolfson Foundation provided the funds for the construction of the Wolfson Centre which houses the Bioengineering Unit to the present day. The Bioengineering Unit, under Kenedi's direction, broadened its spectrum of activities in the area of biomechanics beyond the tissue mechanics, to cover the human performance aspects, prosthetics and orthotics, artificial internal organs, and clinical measurements. Some of the pioneering research studies in musculoskeletal biomechanics and human locomotion were performed during the sixties, such as the works of J.P. Paul and J.B. Morrison. The establishment of the National Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Strathclyde, was also motivated by the success of the bioengineering operation of Robert M. Kenedi and his associates.

Professor Kenedi was an outstanding researcher in the field of mechanics of materials and in biomechanics. He published more than 110 papers in civil, structural engineering and bioengineering, and organized the Strathclyde Seminar series: "Bedsore Biomechanics"; "Artificial Organs"; and "Disability and Computing in Medicine", and published their proceedings. He received numerous recognitions throughout his career, among the most important recognitions were his election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1965); his election as Foreign Associate of the USA National Academy of Engineering (1976); and the receipt of the Lissner Biomedical Engineering Award (1982) from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

In 1980, Professor Kenedi took an early retirement from the University of Strathclyde and went to Hong Kong, to assume a position of Associate Director (Engineering) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic. This was a four year contractual appointment after which he returned to Glasgow and continued to contribute to Strathclyde University as a Professor Emeritus and consultant on various special assignments.

Although Professor Kenedi did have some medical problems recently, the news of his death caught me totally unprepared. I saw him only a few weeks prior to his death, while I was visiting Glasgow, and spent a great part of my visit with him and his wife Jean. Despite his age and a recent heart surgery, he was as dynamic as I always remembered him. He insisted on driving me and my family in the beautiful Scottish country side, surrounding Glasgow, speeding in the narrow winding roads, and occasionally commenting on someone else's driving incompetence. This was him all right, as I remember him from my graduate student's time almost thirty years ago.

Robert Kenedi was my Ph.D. advisor and my role model, and subsequently became a close friend. A good hearted human being, a genuine 'GIVER' who also happened to be an outstanding 'THINKER'. During the years I visited him in Glasgow and in Hong Kong and he visited me in Israel and in the US, but I could never help the feeling that with him, I was always at the receiving end. He always cared about friends and treated them with great concern and generosity. He was a perfect host. I know that there are many former students and colleagues around the world who also feel privileged as much as I do, for having been associated with him, for having been mentored by him, and for having been his friends.

Rami Seliktar, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
Drexel University
32nd & Chestnut Streets
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Tel: (215) 895 2357
Fax: (610) 649 1464
E-mail: Seliktar@coe.drexel.edu
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