R. Byron Bird: The integration of transport phenomena into chemical engineering


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert C. Armstrong at rca@mit.edu.


This article, as is this issue of the AIChE Journal, is a tribute to R. Byron Bird, who has had a profound impact on the discipline of chemical engineering, playing a dominant role in the chemical engineering science paradigm shift that occurred around 1960. His textbook, Transport Phenomena, with Warren Stewart and Edwin Lightfoot, fundamentally changed the way chemical engineers are taught fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and mass transfer. By showing the interconnections among molecular, microscopic, and macroscopic treatments of these three transport processes, as well as the underlying similarities among the three transport processes, he has enabled chemical engineers to contribute to many new areas. In his research he has focused on polymeric fluids – their rheology and fluid mechanics – again spanning molecular to macroscopic problems. Bird is also known throughout the profession as a superb teacher and lecturer. He is gifted in languages and music, and he has a great love of the outdoors. In this article, I try to highlight some of Bird's history and accomplishments in these many areas. His influence is clear in the papers that follow. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 1219–1224, 2014