Brian Rowe (BSc Mechanical Engineering 1955)

by James Johnston, Development Manager

Brian Rowe (1931 - 2007) 

The University would like to inform alumni of the death of alumnus and donor Brian H. Rowe who graduated from Kings College with a BSc Mechanical Engineering in 1955. He passed away unexpectedly whilst recovering from heart surgery.

Born in Kenton, Middlesex, on 6th May 1931, Mr Rowe was educated at Edgware Junior School in Barnet, then Hendon Technical College.  Prior to attending University here in Newcastle, he was an engineering apprentice with De Havilland Engine Co.

He joined General Electric Aircraft Engines in the US in 1957 and rose through the ranks to become Vice President and General Manager of the Commercial Engine Projects Division in 1972.  In 1974, he moved to a similar position in the Airline Programs Division and two years later moved to GE Aircraft Engines.  In 1979 he was made Chief Executive of this division as well as Vice President for the General Electric Company.  In 1993, he was named Chairman, a position he held until 1995. As Chairman Emeritus, he continued to consult with the company. During his tenure at GE, he launched several jet engines, including the CF34 for business and regional jets, the CF6-80C2, a leading engine for wide-body aircraft, the F110 fighter engine for the F-16 and the GE90, the world's largest and most powerful engine.
Mr. Rowe was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was awarded the Legion D'Honneur by the French Government in 1985 for his role in the development of CFM International, a joint company of GE and Snecma of France, which launched the CFM56 engine, the most widely produced jet engine in commercial aviation.

In 1995 he was inducted into the GEAE Propulsion Hall of Fame. Mr. Rowe is a past president of the AIAA and former member of the NAE Finance Committee. He also served on the FAA RE&D Advisory Committee and the Defence Science Board.  He was a member of the Board of Textron and B/E Aerospace. 

Mr. Rowe’s professional interest in Aerospace and Aeronautics and his personal interest in bringing more students to the field of engineering led to a long standing relationship between our School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering.  Late in 1998, he established the Newcastle Exchange Program which fully supported an annual exchange of students between Cincinnati and Newcastle University. He actively encouraged US students to enjoy the social as well as the academic side of Newcastle and was immensely fond of his time here as a student.  In 2001, he generously founded The Rowe Centre for Women in Engineering at the University of Cincinnati to promote undergraduate recruitment and post-graduate mentoring for female student engineers at UC.  
Professor Christopher Edwards, Vice-Chancellor of the University commented: “It is a great accolade for any University when its alumni go on to this sort of success, especially when their work has literally transformed the world we live in. This is a sad loss and we extend our deepest sympathies to Mr Rowe’s family”.

A memorial service is being planned for April 18 2007 at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.

The Development & Alumni Relations Office would like to hear from previous Rowe Scholars.  For further information, please contact James Johnston by e-mail at: james.johnston@ncl.ac.uk.  Tel: 0191 208 6072

published on: 21st May 2007

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