Research Articles

Henry Selby Hele-Shaw LLD, DSc, EngD, FRS, WhSch (1854-1941): Engineer, inventor and educationist

Jane Carruthers
South African Journal of Science | Vol 106, No 1/2 | a119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajs.v106i1/2.119 | © 2010 Jane Carruthers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2010 | Published: 17 March 2010

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Jane Carruthers, Department of History, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, Unisa 0003, South Africa


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Abstract

H.S. Hele-Shaw (1854–1941) was one of the most outstanding engineering scientists of his generation and an eminent figure in engineering education during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. His work in hydrodynamics (the Hele-Shaw cell and Hele-Shaw pump) and his important contribution to the successful development of high-speed aircraft (his variable pitch airscrew), continues to be relevant today. In 1922, as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he introduced the National Certificate scheme in Britain. It is not well known that Hele-Shaw spent two years in South Africa (1904–1905) attached to the Transvaal Technical Institute, a forerunner of the University of the Witwatersrand. One of only three Fellows of the Royal Society of London in southern Africa in 1905, he was a founder Council member of the Royal Society of South Africa and one of the hosts of the 1905 visit to southern Africa by the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the time he spent in South Africa and to contextualise it within the larger perspective of his engineering career.

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