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Robert Ferrier Mckay

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Robert Ferrier Mckay (1883-1951)

1952 Obituary [1]

"ROBERT FERRIER MCKAY, M.SC. (Eng.), who died on 14th June 1951 at the age of sixty-eight, rendered valuable services during the 1914-18 war in connection with the design and development of a mine-cutting device for merchant vessels, and the paravane. Other branches of engineering claimed his attention, notably the design and development of plant for low-temperature carbonization and for latex rubber processes.

He was born in Edinburgh, and received his general education at Henry Smith Grammar School, Hartlepool. He obtained his technical training at Durham College of Science, Newcastle upon Tyne, where he graduated B.Sc. with honours in engineering in 1903 proceeding later to the degree of M.Sc. He then entered the Poplar works of Yarrow and Company, Ltd., as a pupil. On the completion of his articles in 1906 he spent another year in the drawing office as an engine, draughtsman. In the meantime he had been appointed lecturer in machine drawing and design at the City and Guilds College, South Kensington, a position he retained for a number of years. In 1916 he was made assistant to the works manager of the branch of Yarrow and Company, Ltd., Scotstoun, Glasgow; but in the following year he transferred to the London office of Vickers, Ltd., where, as technical assistant in the "Otters" branch of the naval department, he was closely concerned with the design and development of the paravane. He was appointed, in technical officer (engineering) in the Department of Scientific Research. In this capacity he was also actively engaged as secretary to several engineering committees.

In 1926 he began an association with the Dunlop Rubber Company, Ltd., which lasted for twenty-four years. During this period as manager of the inventions and patents department he achieved valuable results by his investigations, which led to the development of latex rubber processes, in connection with which he had numerous patents to his credit. He resigned this appointment in 1950 and went in to practice as a consulting engineer on his own account.

Mr. McKay was elected and associate member of the Institution in 1911 and transferred to membership in 1923. He was also an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and had won the Bayliss Prize for Civil Engineering. He was the author of a paper entitled "The Paravane" which he read before the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1919, and also wrote a number of text-books, including "The Theory of Machines", "The Principles of Machine Design", and "The Carbonization of Coal".

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