Logo: University of Southern California

Fred Browand Feted for Forty-One Years of AME Excellence

Pioneer in streamlining developed early courses in energy conservation
Eric Mankin
February 04, 2009 —

Browand 1
Browand. Photos by Dennis Plocher.
Nearly 100 colleagues, friends, relatives and well-wishers crowded into the Tutor Hall conference room to honor a great career.

The event was a retirement celebration for Professor Fred Browand, who came to USC in 1967, two years after earning his Ph.D. from MIT. Dean Yannis C. Yortsos paid tribute to his forty-one years as a leader in the school.

"Forty-one and a half," interjected Browand, seated with his wife Barbara at the end of a long table.
"Forty-six and a half years of wise and thoughtful council to his colleagues, as I know from experience," subsequently added Professor Tony Maxworthy.

"One thing I noticed during the party is how many of Fred's colleagues from his early days in the 1960's became career-long friends, colleagues and/or collaborators," said another attendee, Professor Paul Ronney.

"And Fred -- he is a true gentleman - gracious, helpful and always steering the conversation towards the good things that you have done, not what he has done," Ronney continued.  "Even on the rare occasions when he was displeased with someone or some thing, his way of expressing his opinions was always respectful to the point that you hardly knew he was displeased."

"I recall Fred Browand very well when I interviewed for a position at USC," said AME chair Michael Kassner. "He was a dignified and gracious and knew immediately that I would enjoy working with him.  I can speak for all of AME when I say that Fred will be  deeply missed."

Fred and Barbara Browand:
In his early research at USC, Browand found that turbulent shear layers grew by the “pairing” of individual vortices.  He published a classic paper in 1974  on this work with his PhD student, Clint Winant, that is one of the Viterbi School's most cited papers.

When Anatol Roshko, a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences,came to AME in 2007 to deliver the first Laufer lecture, he referred to Browand's paper in his talk. 

Dean Yannis C. Yortsos hails Browand's forty-one years. Photo by Dennis Plocher

Professor Ron Blackwelder noted that Browand also conducted some pioneering research in reducing the drag on automobiles, heavy trucks and other ground vehicles. He and his colleagues documented that when such vehicles moved closely together in a “convoy,” considerable energy could be saved.

These techniques, i.e. moving in tightly spaced groups to cut wind resistance, are very familiar to automobile and bicycle racers where they are known as “drafting.”  Browand quantified the effect: he found that automobile vans in a seven or eight vehicle grouping could travel with half the drag they'd undergo if each proceeded individually.

Browand is a fellow of the American Physical Society and is a past chair of its division of fluid mechanics.

CakeIn recent years, Browand focused heavily on problems of energy use and conservation, working on two graduate courses, AME 599 "Alternative Sources of Energy and Power," and AME 577, “Survey of Energy & Power for a Sustainable Future.”
He has also been involved in trying to encourage middle school students to become involved in engineering and science, working on an undergraduate course with Tara Chklovsky.