Born on 13 December 1904 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Ernst Rudolf Georg Eckert attended the German Institute of Technology in Prague where he received the Diploma Ingenieur and Dr. Ing. He held the chair of thermodynamics at his alma mater and was also a section chief for the Aeronautical Research Institute in Braunschweig, Germany. At the end of World War II, he came to the U.S. where he first worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and later at the NASA Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. In 1951, he joined the University of Minnesota where his career continues today as Regents Professor Emeritus in the Mechanical Engineering Department. In Minnesota, he founded the Heat Transfer Laboratory and built up a significant research group working on many different aspects of heat transfer.
Eckert’s contributions in heat transfer cover almost the entire field from radiation to buoyancy driven convection to high speed flows to many other areas as well. His early books (in the 1940s) and research established a quantitative, analytical and experimental base for the engineering science of heat and mass transfer. He has received a number of awards for outstanding research from technical societies as well as honorary doctorates. He has helped establish several journals in the area of heat transfer and was a founding father of the International Heat Transfer Conferences. He is recognized as one of the most outstanding contributors to heat transfer analysis, experiments and understanding in the international community for well over a half a century. He is also known for his major contributions to international cooperation in the research community and for his support of many individuals who have gone on to leadership positions in the heat transfer community.