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Professor David Michael Rowe, OBE (1939-2012)

Professor David Michael Rowe

Professor David ‘Mike’ Rowe, OBE BSc MSc PhD DSc FIET CEng FInstP CPhys, Honorary Research Professor at Cardiff School of Engineering, has died at the age of 72 after a six month battle with cancer.

Born in Ebbw Vale on May 19th 1939, Professor Rowe studied at Ebbw Vale Grammar School, where he developed his love for science and maths. He continued his education studying Pure Mathematics at University College Swansea in 1962, and completed a BSc Honours Degree in Physics the very next year. His postgraduate studies took him to the University of Bristol and to the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, Cardiff. Staying at Cardiff, Professor Rowe was promoted to University Reader in 1988, and in 1995 he was awarded a Personnel Professorial Chair for his research into thermoelectric materials.

Professor Rowe was instrumental in the foundation of what we now know as thermoelectric nanotechnology, and the impact of his work has been far-reaching. His research contributed to the design of nuclear-powered cardiac pacemakers; it provided the foundations for Volkswagen’s first family-sized car with a thermoelectric generator; and it was used by NASA to provide on-board electrical power to deep space missions.

His pioneering work on low temperature waste heat recovery and a 100Watt generating system powered by warm water was showcased at the United Nations climate change summit at Kyoto in 1997. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by HRM Queen Elizabeth II in 2007 for his services to technology.

Professor Rowe will be remembered by his colleagues at Cardiff School of Engineering not just for his impressive body of work, but for his openness, humour and warmth.

He is survived by his wife Barbara, his three daughters Rachael, Charlotte and Becci, and his eight grandchildren.