Professor Art Bergles Passed Away

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Heat Transfer Division

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  • Professor Art Bergles Passed Away

    It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Arthur Bergles:  Past President of ASME, former Chair of the ASME Heat Transfer Division and long-time member of our engineering community. 

    Arthur E. Bergles, (78), of Centerville, Massachusetts, an accomplished Professor of Engineering, passed away Monday, March 17, 2014, of a malignant brain tumor. 

    He was born in New York City on August 9, 1935, son of Edward and Victoria Bergles, who immigrated to the United States from Austria. They worked in Manhattan for several years before moving upstate to Rhinebeck, NY to fulfill Edward’s dream of building a hydroelectric power plant. A self-taught engineer, Edward completed the plant in 1938, which ran almost continuously for 47 years with Art’s help, producing 25kW of power. 

    As a young boy, Art trekked from the homestead to a one-room schoolhouse, and subsequently moved to the Rhinebeck Central School System, where he was active in sports, earned his Eagle Scout, and excelled in academics, graduating valedictorian of his high school class. With all the technical activity at home, he developed a passion for engineering and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1953. He stayed there for 16 years, completing a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s degree in Engineering and then a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering, with an intervening year spent as a Fulbright Scholar at the Technical University in Munich, Germany. While at MIT, he met his future wife, Priscilla (Penny) Maule, who was a student at Boston University. 

    Art taught for several years in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT as Assistant Professor, before moving to the Georgia Institute of Technology as Professor, and then to Iowa State University as Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Anson-Marston Distinguished Professor of Engineering. While at Iowa State, he was awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humbolt Foundation and spent a year with his family as a visiting professor at the University of Hannover in Germany. He later served as Dean of Engineering at Rensselaer, where he held the title of Clark-Crossan Professor of Engineering. Art remained active in retirement, serving as Clark-Crossan Professor Emeritus at Rensselaer, Senior Lecturer at MIT, and Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering at the University of Maryland. 

    Throughout his career, Art was very active in professional societies, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which has an international membership of 130,000, the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning–Engineers (ASHRAE). He served as president of ASME from 1990-1991. 

    Recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in Thermal Sciences, Art published over 400 papers, 26 books and presented over 400 invited lectures. He received numerous professional awards for his work on heat transfer, held fellowships from seven technical societies, was awarded honorary professorships from three overseas universities and received honorary Doctorates from the University of Porto, Portugal, Rand Africaans University in South Africa, and the University of Rome-Sapienza, Italy. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 1992, and as an International Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering in 2000. 

    Art was passionate about education and committed to supporting the careers of young scientists, advising 82 thesis students. The Bergles Professorship was established through an endowment by Arthur and Penny Bergles with the intent of attracting or retaining an outstanding senior faculty member in the thermal sciences at Iowa State University. The Dr. Arthur E. Bergles Scholarship was established in 1996 with gifts from friends, faculty, colleagues and corporations upon the occasion of his retirement from Rensselaer. The Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award in Heat Transfer is presented annually through ASME. He also volunteered his time to serve on numerous fellowship and award selection committees. 

    In his spare time, he enjoyed rowing varsity crew at MIT, playing golf at many of the Cape Cod golf courses, and swimming and clamming with his wife, Penny, on summer Sundays. He was also a member of the MIT Club of Cape Cod and past president of the Osterville Rotary Club. 

    He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Penny, two sons, Eric Bergles of San Jose, California and Dwight Bergles of Baltimore, Maryland, and five grandchildren: Joshua and Joseph of Eric and Joyce Bergles, and Henry, Julia and Sophie of Dwight and Susan Bergles. 

    Friends and relatives are invited to call at the John-Lawrence Funeral Home, 3778 Falmouth Rd., Rt 28, Marstons Mills on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 4-7pm. A private burial service will be held in Rhinebeck, NY. 

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Centerville Public Library, 585 Main St., Centerville, MA 02632. 

    For online guestbook and directions, please email


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