Everett D.Howe (1903-1989), pioniere dell’energia solare e della dissalazione

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On December 27, 1989, in Rossmoor, a stroke ended the career of Everett Howe; his wife, Ruth, preceded him and he is survived by two children, Sylvia Simon and Milton Howe, and by four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His passing ended an association with the Department of Mechanical Engineering that began with his matriculation in 1921 and the attainment of the bachelor’s degree in 1925. Then he spent a year as an engineer in training at the General Electric Turbine Works at Lynn, Massachusetts and, part time, attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for study in Mechanical Engineering.

He returned to the Bay Area in 1926 to resume study at Berkeley and attained a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1928. He then was appointed an Instructor in mechanical engineering and until his retirement in 1968 he continued on the Berkeley faculty. During this long period he served as Assistant and then Associate Dean of the College of Engineering from 1944 to 1954 and as Chairman of the Division of Mechanical Engineering from 1953 to 1958. His interest in sea-water conversion led to his participation in the establishment of the Sea Water Conversion Laboratory in 1958 and his  assumption of the directorship, which continued until his retirement in 1968.

In the post-war period, as Assistant and Associate Dean, he was involved in the very rapid growth and ensuing decline of the college student body and with the administrative complexities of the acquisition and then separation of many temporary faculty. His continual and well appreciated efforts were vital to the stable and rapid growth of the college in that era.

In the late 1940s considerable interest was aroused by the then relatively simple problem of water supply for the state, and Howe entered this area by study of the technological alternatives and economic reality of the supply of large amounts of water by desalinization, which then could be realized only by distillation. By publications and lectures, he pointed to what realistically could be done in this way, and by other possible methods. This activity produced funding by the state in 1951, and analytical and experimental work on water desalinization was initiated, at Los Angeles as well as at Berkeley; this increased, and the Sea Water Conversion Laboratory was established in 1958. 

As part of this work, he became interested in the old solar distillation method, with examination of the process to improve it and make it a viable system for use in underdeveloped regions. He received United Nations support for this work and installed some elementary units in a few South Sea island locations. His interest in solar energy applications widened, to editorships of Sun World and of the monthly, Solar Energy, and to activity with the International Solar Energy Society. Much of this latter activity occurred after his retirement and during much of that period he provided consultation on solar-energy systems for building heating and hot-water supply.

Howe was ever loyal to the University, supportive of his colleagues, and always available to do the extra task. He was congenial, though somewhat reserved, but this was tempered by a few eccentricities and by a dry sense of humor. This included his and Ruth’s holiday message, always a versification of the year’s activities.