Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 13
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  • FUMITAKE YOSHIDA 1913–2007


    FUMITAKE YOSHIDA, Professor Emeritus in the Chemical Engineering Department at Kyoto University (Japan), passed away on September 5, 2007, after a short illness at the age of 94. His wife Kazuko predeceased him, and he is survived by a son, Hajime, and a daughter, Mrs. Akiko Nakane.

    Professor Yoshida was born in Saitama Prefecture on March 20, 1913. In March 1937, he graduated from the Department of Industrial Chemistry of the Kyoto Imperial University, and the following month he accepted employment with the Hitachi Corporation. From April 1940 until October 1945, he was simultaneously employed by Hitachi Corporation and Kyoto Imperial University, where he was a lecturer. At the end of World War II, he severed his connection with Hitachi, and in January 1946, he became an associate professor at Kyoto Imperial University. In March 1951, he obtained his doctoral degree at Kyoto University (the new name for Kyoto Imperial University), by virtue of research on rectifi cation using packed columns. Four months later, he was appointed professor at Kyoto University, where he taught until his retirement on April 1, 1976.

    By 1951, the Japanese academic community was ready to make contact with similar communities around the world, and Professor Yoshida played an important role in this endeavor. His various overseas assignments took him to many countries: 1951 (July) he was a GARIOA (government and relief in occupied areas) student in the United States; from September 1951 to February 1952, he was an auditor at Columbia University; from March 1952 to April 1953, he was a researcher on mass transfer in packed columns at Yale University; from January to October 1959, he was a researcher at the University of Wisconsin; from January to June 1963, he was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he lectured on mass-transfer operations; from July to August 1966, he was a visiting professor at several Australian universities; from July to December 1970, he was a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he lectured on biomedical engineering; in February 1974, he was a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Taiwan; in October 1976, he was a visitor at Ben Gurion University, Israel; and in 1987, he was a visiting professor at Dortmund University, in West Germany.

    Professor Yoshida was able to get invitations to these various educational institutions because of his ability to communicate well in English, a rare quality among Japanese engineers. He could explain to people in other countries what was going on in Japan, and he could bring back to Japan accurate information about activities abroad. Among his activities in professional societies were: director (1955–1959) and vice president (1967–1969) Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan; associate editor, Chemical Engineering Journal (1970); Honorary Adviser of Latin American Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry; member, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; and editor, Chemical Engineering Science (1987–1996).

    An activity of particular interest to him was the German- Japan Joint Symposium on Bubble Columns, in which he was a regular participant; his partner on the German side was Professor Doctor Ulfert Oncken of the University of Dortmund. Professor Yoshida received numerous honors both in Japan and abroad: Honorary Fellow, Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan (1978); foreign associate, NAE (1979); Third Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (1986); Honorary Fellow, Japan Society for Artifi cial Organs (1987); and Distinguished Service Award, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin (1988).

    From his fi rst visit to Dortmund University as visiting professor in 1981, he was closely allied with that institution. In fact, he often referred to the city of Dortmund as his “German home town.” In addition to his numerous scientifi c contacts with the university there, he established a successful exchange program between Kyoto University and Dortmund. In 1992, an Honorary Doctorate (Dr.-Ing.e.h.) was awarded to him by Dortmund University in recognition of his encouragement of the establishment of cooperation between the two universities. This honorary degree also emphasized that he was an engineer of international reputation.

    One of Professor Yoshida’s publications on mass transfer was listed as one of the 100 most referenced papers in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry for 1975 to 2005. The paper is “Gas Absorption by Newtonian and Non-Newtonian Liquids in a Bubble Column,” by M. Nakanoh and F. Yoshida, IEC, Process Design, 1: 190–195 (1980). In the city of Kyoto, Professor Yoshida founded the Kyoto Association of Host Families (KAHF) in 1984 and served as head of the association. KAHF placed 1,400 foreign students with 360 host families.

    Professor Yoshida was co-author of three books (all in Japanese): Advanced Theories and Calculations of Chemical Engineering, F. Yoshida and Y. Mori (eds.), Asakura (Vol. 1, 1962; Vol. 2, 1967); Theories and Calculations of Chemical Engineering, S. Kamei (ed.) and F. Yoshida (co-author), Sangyo- Tosho, 2nd ed. 1975; and Chemical Engineering and Artifi cial Organs, by F. Yoshida and K. Sakai, Kyoritsu Shuppan, 2nd ed. 1996.

    In addition, he was on the editorial board of and a contributor to the Handbook of Chemical Engineering, Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan, Maruzen (1968). He also had several hobbies. He was a connoisseur of cameras and photographic equipment, and he had many albums of photographs of his family, his foreign friends, and his own extensive travels.

    He also enjoyed hiking alone or with students and friends. Even into his 90s, he continued to hike in the mountains around Kyoto. When his wife, Kazuko, became ill with Alzheimer’s disease, Yoshida Sensei took very good care of her. He prepared meals for her, doing the cooking himself, a most unusual undertaking for a Japanese husband.

    Note: The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Professor Emeritus Masataka Tanigaki of Kyoto University in preparing this memoir.

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