Professor P.A. Smith dies at 81


Prescott A. Smith, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, died Friday, April 19, at Emerson Hospital in Concord following a stroke. He was 81 and resided in Concord.

A memorial service will be held today (Wednesday, April 24) at 3pm in the First Parish Church, Concord.

Professor Smith, who was born in Somerville, received the SB degree in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1935. He spent the next 10 years in the manufacturing industry, returning to MIT in 1945 as an assistant professor and director of the Machine Tool Laboratory, now the Materials Processing Center. He was promoted to full professor in 1969 and retired in 1975.

Professor Smith followed in the footsteps of his father, the late Professor Robert H. Smith, who was appointed to the mechanical engineering faculty in 1882 and retired in 1932. Thus, father and son served MIT for a total of 80 years.

The elder Professor Smith founded and directed the Machine Tool Laboratory. His son refurbished the laboratory and brought it up to date, partly by obtaining machinery that the government no longer needed following the end of World War II.

Professor Smith had played a special role during the war as chief plant engineer at the Hemphill Co. in Pawtucket, RI, a manufacturer of the knitting machines for men's hosiery. At the Army's request, he converted production to the manufacture of gunsights for the M1 rifle, the Army's principal weapon, earning the factory a government award at the end of the war.

Professor Smith's research activities were in the areas of manufacturing, productivity, metal cutting and materials processing. He authored a number of papers for professional journals, contributed to several books and was a consultant to industry.

When he was elected chairman of the of the Boston chapter of the American Society of Tool Engineers in 1951, a reporter asked him for a definition of "tool engineer." He replied, "The prime function of tool engineering is to take a design engineer's blueprints and determine how and with what to produce the product that has been designed."

He was a Life Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Tool and Manufacturing Engineers.

Professor Smith and his wife, Eloise M. Smith, lived on the MIT campus for seven years starting in 1966, when Professor Smith served as faculty resident in Bexley Hall.

They retired to Chatham on Cape Cod but returned to Concord in 1990.

Professor Smith leaves his wife; a daughter, Priscilla A. Smith, and her husband, Dr. James C. Michener, also of Concord.

Contributions can be made to the MIT Class of 1935 Memorial Scholarship Fund or the Fowler Library in Concord.

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OTHER OBITUARIES

Margaret A. Harne

Word has been received of the April 15 death of Margaret A. Harne, 82, of Dracut. Mrs. Harne was a technician at Lincoln Laboratory from 1972 until her retirement 10 years later. Her survivors include her husband, Joseph Harne.

Joseph R. Moore

Joseph R. Moore, 93, of Stoneham, a retired service staff member at Lincoln Laboratory, died on April 10. Mr. Moore worked at Lincoln from 1951 until his retirement in 1970.

He leaves three daughters, Genevieve Schmidt of North Hampton, NH, Phyllis Freeman of York, ME, and Geraldine Fife of Plaistow, NH; a son, David Moore of Byfield, 18 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. Remembrances may be sent to the Shriners Burns Institute, 51 Blossom St., Boston 02114.


Topics: Obituaries

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