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Richard G. Folsom

American mechanical engineer, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The basics
AKA Richard Gilman Folsom
Date of birth
Date of death Mar 11, 1996
Education California Institute of Technology
Authority VIAF id
The details

Richard Gilman Folsom (1907 – 1996) was an American mechanical engineer, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, and the twelfth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also known as the 91st president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in the year 1972-73.


Youth and education

Folsom was born on February 3, 1907 in Los Angeles, California to Harry G. Folsom and Mabel Folsom.

He received B.S., M.S. and P.h.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (in 1928, 1929 and 1932, respectively). His P.h.D. thesis was entitled An experimental investigation of the phenomena produced by the highly turbulent flow of water past a series of sharp obstacles.

Career in education and administration

In 1933, he became an instructor in mechanical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, rising to full professor. From 1947-1953, he was chairman of the mechanical engineering department and from 1952-1953 he was also director of the mechanical engineering laboratories. From 1953-1958, he was director of the Engineering Research Institute at the University of Michigan.

In 1958, he was appointed president of Rensselaer. In 1960, the institute established a department of nuclear engineering. The institute also began to enroll women during this time. Previously, the institute had awarded degrees to only 69 women, the first being in 1945. In 1971, he retired from the presidency. In 1976, a new library that had been started during his presidency was named in his honor. He died on March 11, 1996.

Selected publications

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