Month: January 2000

MTU Physics Department History | D. O. Wyble

D. O. Wyble

b. 26 November 1916, Jackson, MI
d. 3 June 1989, St Paul, MN

A.B. MI State Normal (Eastern Michigan Univ.), 1938
B.S. Mining engineering, MCMT, 1942
M.S. MCMT, 1950
Ph.D. (Geophysics) Pennsylvania State Univ., 1958

High School Teaching, Newberry MI, 1938-1940
Survey Party Chief, U.S. Army Engineers, 1942-1943
Engineering Officer, U. S. Navy, 1943-1946
Research and Test Engineer, Acme Industries, 1946-1947
Instructor, MCMT, 1947-1951 GTA, Penn. State Univ, 1951-1952
Lecturer in Atomic Weapons, U.S. Navy, 1952-1954
Graduate Student, Penn. State Univ., 1954-1957
Assistant Professor, MCMT, 1957-1958
Associate Professor, MCMT, 1958-1962
Professor, MCMT/MTU, 1962-1986
Captain, U.S. Naval Reserve, 1964-

Ran NSF Sponsored Summer Program “Institute In Earth Science” in 1960’s.
MCMT (MTU) Research Award, 1958
MCMT (MTU) Honorary “M” Award, 1961
MTU Distinguished Teacher Award, 1968
Ran Cross Country for Jackson, MI, High School and MI State Normal (“All State”).
Said he really did not have a first name, but the Navy had no provision for that and they listed him as “Donald.”


“Gravity Investigations in the Iron River-Crystal Falls Mining District of Michigan,” L. O. Bacon and D. O. Wyble, AIME Trans., Tech. Paper 3383L (1952).

“Effect of Applied Pressure on Conductivity, Porosity and Permeability of Sandstones,” D. O. Wyble, Jour. Petro. Tech. I.N. 2202, Nov. (1958).

MTU Physics Department History | Fay Lilford Partlo

Fay Lilford Partlo

b. 23 Mar 1901, Fairgrove, MI
d. 7 Aug 1996

EM, Mich College Mines, 1923
BS, Mich College Mines, 1926
Ph.M., U of Wisconsin, 1930

Asst. In Mathematics, MCM, 1922
Instr. Math and Physics, MCM 1923-1925
Asst. Prof. Math and Physics, MCMT, 1926-1935
Assoc. Prof. Math and Physics, MCMT, 1936-1943
Prof. Physics, MCMT, 1944-1953.
Physics Department Head, MCMT, 1944-1947.
Dean of College, MCMT, 1947-1953.
President, S. Dakota School of Mines, 1954-1966.
Prof. Physics, S. Dakota School of Mines, 1966-1971.

MCMT Coordinator of War Training Programs, 1943-1946.
MCMT Director of Extension Services, 1946-1954.
Awarded the Bliss Medal by the Society of American Military Engineers in 1965.
Described as a quiet man who led unobtrusively and without grandstanding.


Partlo, F. L., and Service, J. H., Seismic Refraction Methods Applied to Shallow Overburdens, AIME Trans Vol 110, p. 1, and Geophysical Prospecting 1934, pp. 473-492, 1934 (reprinted in MCMT Bull., vol 8, no. 2, 1935).

Partlo, F. L., and Service, J. H., Instantaneous Speeds in Air of Explosion Reports at Short Distances from the Source, Physics Vol. 6, No. 1, pp 1-5, 1935.

Essentials of General Physics, J. H. Service and F. L. Partlo (Edwards Bros, Ann Arbor, 1940).

MTU Physics Department History | Nathan Sanford Osborne

Nathan Sanford Osborne

b. 10 Feb 1875, Southampton, N.Y.
d. 1943

EM Michigan College of Mines 1899
Hon. Sc. D. Stevens Inst. of Technology 1930
Hon. Doctor of Engineering MCMT 1936

Asst. in Physics, Mich School Mines, 1896
Instr. Math and Physics, Mich College of Mines, 1897-1899
Mining Engineer, Champion Copper Co. & E J Longyear Co., 1899-1900
Inst. Math and Physics, Michigan College of Mines, 1901-1903
Lab Assistant, US Bureau of Standards, 1903-1906
Asst. Physicist, US Bureau of Standards, 1906-1910
Inst. Math and Physics, Michigan College of Mines, 1910-1912
Assoc. Physicist, US Bureau of Standards, 1912-1919
Physicist, US Bureau of Standards, 1919-1928
Principal Physicist, US Bureau of Standards, 1928-1939

Most noted for calorimetric measurements at the Bureau of Standards which were essential to make accurate steam tables. Author of many Bureau of Standards (NBS) publications.

See, for example:

“A Calorimetric Method of Surveying the Behavior of Steam,” Mechanical Engineering 46, 88-90 (1924).

N. S. Osborne, H. F. Stimson, D. C. Ginnings, “Calorimetric determination of the thermodynamic properties of saturated water in both the liquid and gaseous states from 100 to 374oC,” J. Res. Natl. Bur. Standards (U.S.) 18, 389-447 (1937).

More details of his contributions at NBS can be found in NBS special publication 958, Jan. 2001, pages 49-52.

MTU Physics Department History | Thomas Croxford Sermon

Thomas Croxford Sermon

b. 25 July 1903, Superior, WI
d. 1 Feb 1983, Houghton, MI

A.B. Central State Teacher’s College, MI, 1929
B.S. Mining Eng, MCMT, 1936
M.S. Geophysics, MCMT, 1940
(Thesis Title: A null current indicator)

Instr. Math and Physics, MCMT, 1926-1938
Asst. Prof Math and Physics, MCMT, 1939-1943
Assoc. Prof. Physics, MCMT, 1944-1947
Prof. Physics, MCMT/MTU, 1948-1970
Physics Department Head 1948-1954
Registrar, MCMT/MTU, 1954-1970
Director of Student Services, MTU, 1964-1970


Member Association of Physics Teachers, Society for Engineering Education.


Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., A Magnetic Gradiometer, AIME Technical Publication no. 542, 17 pp, 1934.

Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., Some Recent Methods of Magnetic Prospecting, MCMT Bull., Vol 8, No. 1, 1934.

Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., Some Magnetic Gradiometer Developments During 1934-35, American Geophysical Union Transactions, 16th annual meeting, Wash. D.C., pt. 1, pp 181-188, National Research Council, 1935.

MTU Physics Department History | Fisher Hall

Construction began on a new Physics and Mathematics Building in 1962. Shortly before the groundbreaking, James Fisher, Jr., passed away. Fisher had been Professor and Department head of Mathematics and Physics for over 40 years, on the faculty for 50 years, and after his mandatory retirement in 1944, he remained active, especially with the alumni association. He was a Michigan Mining School graduate (1893) and Hancock native and he was much respected in the community. In recognition of his contributions to Michigan Tech and the community, the new building was named for him and was dedicated to him when it opened in 1964.

Fisher Hall Photo
Fisher Hall in 1981, from the US-41 Side (the back)

Fisher Hall currently houses the departments of Physics and Mathematical Sciences. Up until 2004, it also housed Computer Science. Fisher Hall has a large number of classrooms which are used by many other departments on campus. Of the academic buildings on campus, it is now one of the oldest.

An addition, named the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, was added during 2003-2004 to the West side of the building (to the left in the picture above) largely to house computer science faculty and classrooms. During the summer of 2006, some of the classrooms and public areas inside Fisher Hall received a much-needed face lift.

MTU Physics Department History | Fred Walter McNair

Fred Walter McNair

b. 3 December 1862, Fennimore, WI
d. 30 June 1924, in a train wreck near Buda, IL.

B.S. U. of Wisconsin (1891)
Hon. D. Sc., Lafayette College (1907).
Hon. D. Sc., Rhode Island State College (1919).

Inst. Mathematics, U of Wisconsin 1889-1891
Asst. Prof. Math, Michigan Agricultural College, Fall 1891-1893
Prof. Math and Physics, Michigan College of Mines, 1893-1924
President, Michigan College of Mines, 1899-1924

During World War I worked with U.S. Bureau of Standards and later worked on firing methods for large Naval guns (unpublished).

Member of Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton. His home was at the corner of Houghton and Hubbell Ave, where the Southwest corner of the Memorial Union is currently located.


American Physical Society (Fellow)
AAAS (VP for Sect. D 1906)
American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIME)
Metals and Mining Society of America
Lake Superior Mining Institute
Tau Beta Pi
Phi Beta Kappa
President, Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education 1904/05
Three different MTU buildings were named for him — 2 academic and one residence hall.


(list likely not complete – McNair listed as sole author on all)

“Simple Huyghen’s apparatus for the optical lantern,” Nature 53, 535 (1895/96).

“Note on a simple method for Newton’s total reflection experiment,” Science 5, 620-621 (1897).

“College View of Mining Graduate,” Proc. Lake Superior Mining Inst. Vol VII, 101-106 (1901).

“The Divergence of Long Plumb Lines at the Tamarack Mine,” The Engineering and Mining Journal 73, 578-580 (1902).

“Divergence of Long Plumb Lines at the Tamarack Mine,” Science XV, No. 390, p 994 (June, 1902). Reprinted in Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, Sept 1902, pg 143.

“The Divergence of Long Plumb Lines at the Tamarack Mine,” Electrical World and Engineer XXXIX, No. 17, 721-723 (1902).

“How Bodies Fall in Deep Vertical Shafts,” Mining and Scientific Press, Vol XCIII No. 2, 56-57 (July 14, 1906).

“An Experiment on Easterly Deviation Beneath the Earth’s Surface,” Science XXIII, 415-416 (1906).

“Some Problems Connected with Deep Mining in the Lake Superior Copper District,” Proc. Am. Assoc. Adv. Sci., Meetings 56 & 57, 447-456 (1907).

“Note on a Method in Teaching Optical Mineralogy,” American Journal of Science, Series 4 Vol. XXXI, 292-296 (1911).

MTU Physics Department History | Arthur Edwin Haynes

Arthur Edwin Haynes

b. 23 May 1849, Van Buren (near Baldwinsville), NY
d. 12 March 1915, Minneapolis, MN

B.S. Hillsdale College, 1875
M.S. 1877, M. Ph. 1879, Hillsdale College
Hon. Sc. D., 1896

Inst. Math and Physics, Hillsdale College, 1875
Acting Prof. Math and Physics, Hillsdale College, 1876
Prof. Math and Physics, Hillsdale College, 1876-1890
Prof. Math and Physics, Michigan College of Mines, 1890-1893
Asst. Prof. Math 1893-1896, College of Eng., University of Minnesota
Prof. Math, 1896-1901, College of Eng., University of Minnesota
Prof. Engineering Math, 1901-1912, University of Minnesota
Retired 1912.


London Mathematical Society (elected 1885).


Parents moved to Hillsdale County, MI, in 1858, and were farmers. Attended “academy near Baldwinsville” for a couple years.

Summer of 1874: worked construction job at Hillsdale College and helped build the building he would later teach in as Prof.

Married College Classmate, May Hewitt, 1875.

“Believed in and worked for Prohibition.”


(to 1900, may not be complete)

“Abnormal refraction,” Am. Meteorol. Journal 1, 446 (1884/85).

“Unusually Bright Moonlight,” Am. Meteorol. Journal 2, 56 (1885/86).

“Notes on the occultation of the Sun as seen at Hillsdale College, March 16, 1885,” Sidereal Messenger 4, 121-122 (1885).

MTU Physics Department History | Irwin Roman

Irwin Roman

b. 2 May 1893, St. Louis, MO
d. 29 May 1976, Baltimore, MD

AB, Washington (St Louis), 1913
AM Chicago, 1915
PhD Chicago, 1920
(Thesis Title: The Transformation of Waves through a Symmetrical Optical Instrument, advisor – Arthur C. Lunn. See Phys. Rev. 18, 62-77 (1921).)

Inst. Math, Northwestern, 1916-1923
Assoc. Prof. Math, Vanderbilt, 1923-1925
Mathematical Physicist, Amerada Corp. And Geophys. Research Corp., 1925-30
Consulting Mathematical Physicist, 1930-1931
Asst. Prof. Math and Physics, Michigan College of Mining and Technology, 1931-1935
(Was on leave the last year to do ground resistivity studies in Southern Nevada)
Senior Geophysicist, US Bur. Of Mines and Geological Survey (USGS), 1935-


Only child, Nancy Grace Roman, attended Houghton Central School for grades 3 to 5. She later became Chief of Astronomy for NASA. She credits, in part, views of the Northern Lights seen when living in Houghton as a possible factor leading to her career in astronomy.

Publications by Irwin Roman During MCMT Years

Roman, I., Least Squares in Practical Geophysics, AIME, Transactions, Geophysical Prospecting, pp. 460-506, 1932.

Roman, I., The Calculation of Electrical Resistivity for a Region Underlying Two Uniform Layers, Terrestrial Magnetism, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 117-140, and Vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 165-202, 1933.

Roman, I., Analysis of Seismic Profiles, AIME Contribution no. 64, 35 pp., 1933 (reprinted in MCMT Bull. Vol 7, no. 2, 1934).

Roman, I., Some Interpretations of Earth-Resistivity Data, AIME Contribution no. 66, 15 pp., 1934.

Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., A Magnetic Gradiometer, AIME Technical Publication no. 542, 17 pp, 1934.

Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., Some Recent Methods of Magnetic Prospecting, MCMT Bull., Vol 8, No. 1, 1934.

Roman, I., and Sermon, T. C., Some Magnetic Gradiometer Developments During 1934-35, American Geophysical Union Transactions, 16th annual meeting, Wash. D.C., pt. 1, pp 181-188, National Research Council, 1935.

Roman, I., Some Recent Methods of Seismic and Electrical Prospecting, MCMT Bull., Vol. 8, No. 2, 1935.