Gail Kendall’s gift transforms an historic lab

The Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory completes a total renovation

Rohsenow Kendall Lab
Over 6,000 square feet of newly renovated lab space (2010)
Image: Tony Pulsone

In the world of heat transfer and energy, Professor Warren M. Rohsenow and his student, Gail E. Kendall PhD ’78, have long been associated with significant contributions to the field. So it is fitting that they should share the spotlight as namesakes of the renovated Rohsenow Kendall Heat Transfer Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.

Original Lab Space

The Heat Measurements Lab at MIT’s former Back Bay campus (1904)

The lab, which began its life on MIT’s Boston campus in 1870, was named for Rohsenow in 1992 to honor his three decades as director. Now the lab has undergone a gut level renovation thanks to a generous gift from Kendall. Only the concrete shell of the existing 6,000-square-foot space in the basement of Building 7 was spared in the demolition. The result is a premier heat and mass transfer research facility that includes state-of-the-art laser test cells, steam experimentation capabilities, fume hoods, enhanced electrical systems, chilled water cooling, and new meeting and office spaces.

Kendall was a doctoral student of Professor Rohsenow’s in the 70s and was the second woman to receive a PhD in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering. She served as Professor of the Practice of Mechanical Engineering in 2000/2001 and was founding director of the Center for 21st Century Energy at MIT now known as the Center for Energy and Propulsion.

Throughout her career, Kendall has been very active in the energy industry.  As the director of strategic science and technology at the Electric Power Research Institute in the late 1990s, Kendall oversaw a technology innovation portfolio that included energy conversion, delivery, sustainability, and the health and environmental effects of energy use. In her most recent role as an industry executive, Kendall directed Group Environmental Affairs at CLP Holdings (China Light and Power) for eight years until her retirement in 2009. Kendall continues to work as an independent environmental services consultant from her home base in San Francisco.meche logo

Read more about the lab in the research section of the MechE website meche.mit.edu/research/energy.