M.A. Abkowitz Dies at 73
Services were held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at Temple Emunah for Martin A. Abkowitz, professor of ocean engineering and an international authority on ocean vehicle hydrodynamics and on the motion and control of ships, who died Sunday, Jan. 26 of cancer after a short illness.
Professor Abkowitz, who for many years was the director of the MIT Ship Model Towing Tank, was born in Revere in 1918. He received the SB in naval architecture in 1940 and the SM degree in 1949, both from MIT, and the PhD in physics from Harvard in 1953.
From 1940-42, he was a naval architect with the US Navy's David Taylor Model Basin in Washington, D.C. During World War II he served with the US Army's Transportation Corps and had the rank of captain. After the war, from 1946 to 1949, he was a physicist at the David Taylor Model Basin. He was appointed to the MIT faculty in 1949 in what then was called the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. He became associate professor in 1954 and professor in 1959.
His teaching and research focused on ship hydrodynamics, particularly ship motions in waves and the stability of
ships and submarines. He was responsible for the design, construction, and operation of the MIT Ship Model Towing Tank. There, and in classrooms and other laboratories, he taught and inspired many students, several of whom are currently on the faculty of what is now the Department of Ocean Engineering at MIT and on other faculties throughout the world.
His formal retirement occurred in 1988, but he continued to be active in professional activities until he became ill last year.
He was a Life Member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and a regular participant in the International Towing Tank Conference. He travelled and lectured extensively throughout Europe, Israel, and Asia.
He was awarded Fulbright fellowships to the Technical University of Denmark (1962-3) and the University of Nantes, France, (1971-2), and a von Humboldt fellowship to the University of Duisburg, Germany (1990-91).
A resident of Lexington, Mass., since the mid 1950s, Professor Abkowitz is survived by his wife Davette, an educational consultant at Tufts University; three children; Dr. Janis Abkowitz Miller of Seattle, Wash.; Professor Mark D. Abkowitz of Nashville, Tenn.; and Dr. Suzanne Abkowitz Crawford of Newburyport, Mass; and seven grandchildren.
A memorial week will be observed as his residence, 28 Peacock Farm Rd., Lexington, evenings through Sunday, Feb. 2.
Donations in his memory may be made to the Martin A. Abkowitz Memorial Fund and mailed to Sharon Trohon, Rm. 5-228. Her phone is x3-4330.
A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 18).