Hawkins, George A. (1907-1978) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
George Andrew Hawkins was born in Denver, Colorado on December 11, 1907. He began his university work with two summer terms, and the full year between, at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He then transferred to Purdue University, where he completed his work and received his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in June of 1930. After graduation, he joined the Purdue University staff as an Assistant in Applied Mechanics, while pursuing graduate studies that earned him his Master's Degree in mechanical engineering in 1932 and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1935. During the summer of 1933, while still working on his doctorate at Purdue, he studied advanced mathematics at the University of Denver.
After obtaining his Ph.D., he joined the Purdue faculty in the School of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Hawkins was made a full professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in 1942. One year later he was named Westinghouse Research Professor of Heat Transfer. For many years he was also on the staff of the Engineering Experiment Station and was named its Associate Director on July 1, 1950. In his research capacity, he performed a number of noteworthy investigations. He worked with Dean A. A. Potter and Dr. H. L. Solberg in studies of high-pressure and high-temperature steam. During World War II he was chosen to direct the U.S. Army Ordnance Research Project located at Purdue. The work carried out under his direction brought special citation to Purdue University for developments leading to improved automatic weapons. For his own personal contributions, he received the War Development's Certificate of Appreciation.
At Purdue in 1942, he was made the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School and for fifteen months of that appointment, he served as acting Dean. From July 1, 1949 to June 20, 1950, he was given leave from Purdue to be a Visiting Professor of Engineering at the University of California at Los Angles. On July 1, 1953, he assumed the position of Dean of Engineering and Director of the Engineering Experiment Station, succeeding A.A. Potter. For the period 1961-1963, in addition to his responsibilities as Dean of Engineering he was given the administrative responsibilities for the Department of Mathematics at Purdue.
During the early years of his term as Dean of Engineering, education programs were being impacted heavily by the information explosion that followed the release of information generated by research carried out during World War II. Under Dean Hawkins' guidance, Purdue's engineering curriculum became a model for other schools to follow, thus assisting the change to spread across the country during this time period.
On July 1, 1967, Dr. Hawkins was appointed Vice-President for Academic Affairs; and at a meeting of the Board of Trustees in September 1971, he was designated Vice-President Emeritus for Academic Affairs. Following his retirement he served the University in several postretirement positions, among which was one year as Acting Dean of Engineering, acting Head of Aeronautical Engineering, Interim Provost, Special Assistant to the Provost, and others. He finally retired in July 1974, retaining the titles of Professor Emeritus of Thermodynamics, Westinghouse Research Professor Emeritus of Heat Transfer, and Vice-President Emeritus of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Hawkins was the author of five college textbooks and the author of approximately 240 articles and abstracts on engineering and related subjects. He served as a consultant to a number of industries and to governmental and other organizations.
His hobbies included rifles and pistols, collecting selected categories of stamps, and wood carving; using both machine and hand tools. His carvings were mainly of decorative water fowl and the Hopi Indian Kachina dolls, for which he was considered an expert.
Dr. Hawkins passed away at his home in West Lafayette April 6, 1978. He was known as a scholar, artist, artisan, engineer, and friend. He leaves behind a rich heritage in the field of engineering education, both at Purdue University and through-out the nation.
In honor of Dr. Hawkins' many years of dedicated service to Purdue University and the country, the Board of Trustees voted at the May 15, 1981 meeting, to approve the naming of Graduate House West, West Lafayette Campus, George A. Hawkins Graduate House.
Purdue University Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes, May 15, 1981.
Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 1 (1979). Washington: National Academy of Engineering (NAE).