Obituary: Kenneth G. Picha, former Engineering dean

Kenneth G. Picha, former dean of the School of Engineering and professor emeritus of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, died Sept. 6 in Auburn, Ala. He was 79.

Born in Cicero, Ill., he studied at Georgia Tech, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering in 1946 and 1948, respectively. He was awarded his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 1957.

He was a U.S. Navy veteran, serving as an ensign.

Prior to his appointment as dean of the School of Engineering in 1966, Picha was director of Georgia Tech’s School of Mechanical Engineering, where he served on the faculty for 13 years. From 1958-60, he was an engineering sciences program director for the National Science Foundation.

After stepping down as dean in 1976, he directed the Office of University Programs for the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration. He returned to campus in the fall of 1977 and served three years as director of the Office to Coordinate Energy Research and Education.

He returned to the faculty in 1980 and continued teaching until his retirement in 1989. In 1982-83, he was an exchange professor and consultant to the chancellor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. He also served as a consultant to more than a dozen government agencies and educational institutions, including the University of Singapore, where he helped plan a new engineering school.

He chaired the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) Projects Board, served on the board of director for ASEE’s Engineering Research Council, and chaired the Commission on Education for Engineering Professions for the National Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities.

He was a fellow of the ASEE, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a constituent fellow of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In 1976, he received the Engineering Alumni Outstanding Service Award.

He leaves his wife, Vivien; a daughter Katrina Boedeker of Fort Wayne, Ind.; two sons, Kenneth Jr., of Burke, Va., and Kevin, of Fort Collins, Colo.; and seven grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 143 East Thach Ave., Auburn AL 36830.