Richard S. Thorsen
Vice President Emeritus, Senior Advisor to the President
New York University
Doctor of Philosophy, Mechanical Engineering
City College of New York, CUNY
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering
Polytechnic Institute of New York University
Faculty Member, Mechanical Engineering, 1964-Present; Department Head, 1974 - 1983; Associate Provost for Computing, 1983-1986; Dean of Graduate Studies, 1986-1992; Vice President for Research and Advanced Programs, 1992-1995; Vice President for Development and University Relations, 1995 - 2006; Vice President for Academic Affairs, 2006-2010.
From: September 1964 to present
Worked on Lunar Module, F14 Tomcat, Space Shuttle fuel system
From: April 1968 to June 1995
- Fluid Mechanics
- Heat Transfer
- Computational Methods in ME
- Conduction Heat Transfer
- Convection Heat Transfer
- Radiative Heat Transfer
- Reactor Heat Transfer
- Energy Systems
- Heat Transfer
- Nuclear Reactor Safety
- Solar energy
- Radiation Heat Transfer
- Combined Mode Heat Transfer
- Energy Conversion
Awards + Distinctions
- 2005: Polytechnic University Sesquicentennial Award to 25 most outstanding alumni
- 2007: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Polytechnic University
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
General / Collaborative Research
Pincipal Investigator on $28.1 million in Research and Education Contracts & Grants
R&D Projects for the Brooklyn Union Gas Company. Sponsor: BUG
Development of Femto second Laser Facility and other Space Electronics Initiatives. Sponsor: FAA
The Role of Directed Energy Weapons for the Defense of NATO Europe. Sponsor: SDIO
Three (3) TI PC/AT Computers for Software Development. Sponsor: Texas Instruments
200 Copies of AUTOCAD CAD Software for Instructional Applications in Engineering Curricula. Sponsor: Autodesk, Inc.
DISSPLA Graphics Software Grant. Sponsor: ISSCO
On-Site Energy Audits and Thermal Analysis. Sponsor: US DoE
Assessment of the Impact of Compact and Micro-computers on Learning and New Curriculum Directions in Engineering and Science at the College/University Level. Sponsor: Texas Instruments
Evans and Sutherland PS330 3D-Graphics Workstation. Sponsor: Evans and Sutherland
CAD/CAM Equipment and Software for Instruction and Research. Sponsor: IBM
Seed Funding for Support in Computer Graphics for New Faculty. Sponsor: Institute for Imaging Sciences
Solar Hot Water Component and System Performance Determination. Sponsor: Con Edison
Analysis of, and Recommended Changes to,the "Intermediate Standards for Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems/HUD Initiative," NBSIR 77-1272. Sponsor: NIST
Payback on Residential Solar Hot Water Systems Installed in New York. Sponsor: NYSERDA
Performance Monitoring of Selected Hot Water, Space Heating and Cooling Demonstration Sites. Sponsor: NYSERDA
Technical Support for Solar Installation Monitoring Program. Sponsor: Northeast Solar Energy Research Center
Psychological, Social and Economic Factors in Solar Energy Use. Sponsor: NYSERDA
Determination of Off-Design Behavior of a Solar Powered Ejector Compression/Vacuum Cooling System. Sponsor: Northrup-Grumman
Thermal Performance Tests and Cost Benefit Analysis of General Electric TC-100 Evacuated Tube Solar Collectors. Sponsor: Con Edison
Review of Laboratory Data Relating to Performance Change During 30-Day Stagnation Tests of Solar Collectors. Sponsor: NIST
Solar Applications for Process Heat in New York Industry. Sponsor: NYSERDA
Preliminary Study of Solar Powered Ejector Compression/ Vacuum Cooling Systems. Sponsor: Northrup Grumman
Monitoring of HUD Solar Hot Water Initiative Sites in New York State. Sponsor: NYSERDA
Program Support for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority via the Solar Energy Applications Center (SEAC)-- Multiple Tasks and Projects. Sponsor: NYSERDA
HUD Solar Hot Water Initiative: Coordination of Technical Tasks for Ten Participating States. Sponsor: US HUD
Westchester Solar Energy Demonstration and Evaluation Project. Sponsors: NYSERDA & Con Edison
Solar Collector Performance Testing. Sponsor: LILCO
The Feasibility of Simulating JP-4 Fuel Fire Environments Under Reproducible Furnace Conditions. Sponsor: US Army Aeromedical Research Laborartory
Components for the Construction of a Two-phase Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics Loop. Sponsor: NSF
Combined Radiation, Conduction and Convection for Gas Flows in Circular Tubes With Arbitrary Wall Heat Generation. Sponsor: NASA
Radiation Heat Transfer Problems With Uniform Heat Flux Boundary Conditions.Sponsor: NSF
Radiative Heat Transfer Analysis by Monte Carlo Methods. Sponsor: NSF
"Integral Methods in Transient Heat Conduction Problems with Uniform Initial Conditions," Int. J. Heat & Mass Transfer, vol.8, p. 189 (1965)
"Friction and Heat Transfer Characteristics in Turbulent Swirl Flow Subjected to Large Transverse Temperature Gradients," J. Heat Transfer, Trans. ASME (C), vol. 90, p. 87 (1968)
"Heat Transfer in a Tube with Forced Convection, Internal Radiation Exchange, Axial Wall Heat Conduction and Arbitrary Wall Heat Generation," Int. J. Heat & Mass Transfer, vol. 12, p. 1182 (1969)
"Creative Synthesis in Engineering," ERM Journal (ASEE), vol. 1, No.3, p. 13 (March 1969)
"The Influence of Internal Radiation Exchange, Arbitrary Wall Heat Generation and Wall Heat Conduction on Heat Transfer in Laminar and Turbulent Flows," Heat Transfer 1970, Proceedings of the Fourth International Heat Transfer Conference, Paris-Versailles, 1970, vol. III, Paper No. R2.8, September,1970
"Combined Forced Convection and Radiation Heat Transfer in Asymmetrically Heated Parallel Plate Channels," 1970 Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics Institute, Monterey, CA, pp.32-44, June 1970
"A Young Engineering Teacher's View of Engineering Education," Mechanical Engineering, vol. 92, No. 1, p. 72 (1970) Richard S.Thorsen
"Combined Conduction, Convection and Radiation Effects in Optically Thin Tube Flow," 1971 AIChE-ASME Heat Transfer Conference, Paper No. 71-HT-17 (August 1971)
"Coupled Optically Thin Radiation and Convection Heat Transfer in a Parallel Plate Channel," 1973 AIChE-ASME Heat Transfer Conference, Paper No. 73-HT-14, August, 1973
"Variable Property Turbulent Flow in a Horizontal Smooth Tube During Cooling with a Constant Temperature Boundary Condition," J. Heat Transfer, Trans. ASME, (C), February 1973
"A Comparative Study of Vertical Upflow and Downflow in a Uniform- ly Heated Boiling Fluid," Heat Transfer 1974, Fifth International Heat Transfer Conference, Tokyo, Japan, September 1974
"Transient Melting of a Solid Heated by a Condensing Saturated Vapor - Case I: Negligible Interface Curvature," J. Heat Transfer, Trans. ASME, (C), November 1975
"Administration of Interdisciplinary Energy Programs Within a Traditional Department Structure," ASEE National Conference, Baton Rouge, LA, June, 1979
"Forced Flow Laminar Filmwise Condensation of Pure Saturated Vapor in a Vertical Tube," Int. J. Heat & Mass Transfer, vol. 23, p. 165, February, 1980
"Inexpensive Computer Graphics for Engineering Student Education," Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Frontiers in Education Conference," pp. 332-335, October, 1983
"The Microcomputer Environment at Polytechnic Institute of New York," Presented at a Mini-plenary session on University Microcomputer Environments organized by the author. Published in the Proceedings of the ASEE National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 1984.
"Instruction in Interactive Graphics and Computer Aided Design Based on Microcomputers," Proceedings of the 1984 ASME Computers in Engineering Education Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, Aug. 1984.
"The Role of Microcomputers and Mainframe Computers in University Responses to Industry CAD/CAM Needs," Proceedings of the 1985 ASEE National Conference. Mini-plenary session organized and chaired by the author.
"An RPC-Based CAD System in a Micro Environment," Computers in Engineering, Vol. 1, pp 11-13, ASME, New York, NY 1985.
"Industry Professorships: An Approach to Solving the Problem of Faculty Shortages," Proceedings of the 1986 ASEE National Conference.
"Integration of Two Geometric Modelers Based on Polyhedra and Rational Parametric Bicubics," ASME Computers in Engineering 1986, vol. 2, pp 85-88.
"Combined Conduction, Convection and Radiation Effects in Internal Flows: Non-Participating Gases," New York University, Department of Mechanical Engineering Report No. F-69-4, September, 1969
"Combined Conduction, Convection and Radiation Effects in Internal Flows - Participating Gases," New York University, Department of Mechanical Engineering Report No. F-70-2, September, 1970
"Thermophysical Properties of Solid Hydrogen," Grumman Aerospace Corp., Report No. ADR 04-02-71.3, November, 1970
"Solid Hydrogen Storage and Thermal Experimental and Analytical Studies," Grumman Aerospace Corp., Report No. ADR 04-02-71.1, 1971
"The Feasibility of Simulating JP-4 Fuel Fire Environments Under Reproducible Furnace Conditions," Prepared for the Life Support Branch of the Bio-Engineering Division, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, Alabama (1971)
"Components for the Construction of a Two-Phase Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics Loop," Final Report, NSF Grant No. GK3774 (1972)
"Curriculum for the Year 2000," Report of the Carnegie Study Task Force on Curriculum Development, Polytechnic Institute of New York (1974)
"A Plan for Creation of a Solar Energy Applications Center," Poly-M/AE Report 77-7, (Prepared for NYSERDA) May, 1977
"Westchester Solar Energy Demonstration and Evaluation Project - First Year Interim Report," Poly-M/AE Report 77-19, (Prepared for NYSERDA), November 1977
"HUD Solar Hot Water Initiative - Centralized Coordination of Technical Tasks and System Evaluation," Poly-M/AE Report 78-1 (Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), January, 1978
"Accelerating Solar Commercialization: Opportunities and Pitfalls," Second National Conference on the Solar Energy Business, Phoenix, AZ, February, 1978
"Preliminary Study of Solar Powered Ejector Compression/Vacuum Cooling Systems," Poly-M/AE Report 78-16 (Prepared for Fairchild - Republic), June, 1978
"HUD Solar Hot Water Initiative - Centralized Coordination of Technical Tasks and System Evaluation," Summary Report, June 1, 1977 - October 31, 1978, Poly-M/AE Report 78-25 (Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), November, 1978
"Westchester Solar Energy Demonstration and Evaluation Project: Second Year Report," Poly-M/AE Report 78-27 (Prepared for Consolidated Edison Company of New York and NYSERDA), November, 1978
"Thermal Performance Monitoring of Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems: Needs, Strategies and Pitfalls," Proceedings of the DoE Workshop on Solar System Monitoring, Poly-M/AE Report 80-29, Florida Solar Energy Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, December, 1980
"Solar Hot Water Component and System Performance Determination - Phase 1: System Installation and Instrumentation," Poly-M/AE Report 82-7 (Prepared for the Consolidated Edison Company of New York), June, 1982
"IBM CAD/CAM System: Installation and Utilization," First Year Report of the IBM CAD/CAM Grantee School Consortium, Dec. 1984.
"The Role of Directed Energy Weapons for the Defense of NATO Europe," Phase I Final Report, Prepared for SDIO-DEW, Sept. 1987.
"Solar Hot Water Component and System Performance Determination - Final Report," Prepared for The Consolidated Edison Company of New York, December 1987.
Favorite Books + Authors
- Les Miserables
- The Odyssey
- Nothing Less Than Victory
Please provide a brief description of your teaching philosophy
Teach unchanging principles, illustrate them with practical applications and prepare students for lifelong learning.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Poly?
The curiosity of students
Aside from textbooks, what other reading material would you recommend to your students?
Classics and thought provoking physics books dealing with string theory, multiple universes, consequences of quantum mechanics
- John Lennon
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Top Gun (Starring the F14 Tomcat, on which I worked)
- “There is no can’t”
Dr. Thorsen is a Mechanical Engineer with a Ph. D. from New York University and is a member of the mechanical engineering faculty. He served as Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and then Head of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Polytechnic Institute of New York (now Polytechnic Institute of New York University) from 1974 -1983. During his tenure enrollment in the department increased from 400 undergraduates to 700 and graduate enrollment grew from 200 to 400. Sponsored research increased from $25,000 to more than $2 million annually. He introduced Polytechnic’s first computer-based instructional laboratory.
In 1983 he became Associate Provost for Computing and Information Systems. During the early stages of the PC and Workstation explosion he worked closely with Aerospace and Architectural and Engineering Design companies to lead the University's development of Interactive Computer Graphics and Computer Aided Design (CAD) laboratories and curricula. He won a $3.2 million IBM CAD/CAM grant which enabled introduction of CAD/CAM and VLSI instruction at Polytechnic.
He served as Dean Graduate Studies 1986 - 1992, a position in which he had responsibility for recruiting graduate students and establishing and implementing graduate student policies. The university’s high water mark in graduate enrollment until 2009 (2659) was achieved during this period. In 1992 he became Vice President for Research and Advanced Programs, a position in which he had overall responsibility for the University's research programs and government relations while leading the University's expansion in sponsored research from $6 to $12 million annually. He also had responsibility for maintaining the quality of the University's graduate programs and New York State accreditation of its doctoral programs.
As Vice President for Development and University Relations from 1995 -2006 he had responsibility for representing Polytechnic to its various constituencies for the purpose of enhancing support for the University. He was the director of all major fund raising activities and led the successful $275 million Campaign for Polytechnic - Fulfilling the American Dream, which raised $100 million in addition to the extraordinary Othmer gifts of $175 million.
Dr. Thorsen led Polytechnic’s development of its Strategic Plan for 2004-2007, Securing the Future and had responsibility for its implementation. He also led the University’s brand marketing initiative which led to PolyThinking® and The Power of PolyThinking® and became the foundation of our recent branding and marketing initiative. He led the University’s year long sesquicentennial celebration in 2004 and 2005, raising $700,000 to cover the cost of all events and publications.
As Vice President for Academic Affairs he coordinated the development of the University’s Strategic Plan for 2007-2010, through its adoption by the Board of Trustees in May, 2007. He has been engaged in implementing the transformation of the University’s academic operations, under the leadership of the Provost. Recently he has developed a set of key metrics and indicators regarding critical academic and administrative operations and initiatives. These provide constructive performance feedback and inform management’s strategic decision making.
He is widely published in heat transfer and solar energy literature and has led major government and industry sponsored research projects in these areas. He has been principal Investigator on more than $26 million of sponsored research programs.
He was instrumental in the negotiations which led to the 1973 merger of Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and the New York University School of Engineering and Science, and it’s subsequent successful implementation. In 2007-2008 he played a leading role in the negotiations that led to Polytechnic’s current affiliate relationship NYU and eventual consolidation as NYU’s school of technology and engineering.