Person: Pack, Donald
Donald Pack was an English mathematician who worked on supersonic airflows. He went on to become principal of Strathclyde University.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Mr and Mrs Pack were the recipients of many valuable presents.
- Donald's early years were spent in Higham Ferrers where he attended the Primary School.
- It had moved to a new site in 1881 and there, as well as the strong academic teaching, Donald was able to enjoy the sporting emphasis with a new pavilion being opened on the playing fields one year before he began his studies there.
- At this time Pack was nineteen years of age and so eligible for military service as were all men between the ages of 18 and 41.
- However, Pack was one of only four mathematics undergraduates who were told to continue their education at Oxford and complete their degree course before beginning war service.
- Pack, therefore, continued his studies and was awarded a BA with First Class Honours in mathematics in 1941.
- After a year at Cambridge working in the Mathematical Laboratory, in 1942 Pack was awarded a BA by the University of Cambridge.
- After this year at Cambridge, Pack was sent to the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment at Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks, Kent, where he was Scientific officer, Ministry of Supply.
- At Fort Halstead, Pack joined a team led by Nevill Mott (1905-1996), working on problems involving armaments and set up to advise military designers on problems relating to explosives, fragmentation bombs, the attack and defence of tanks and other similar problems.
- Connie was also on the staff of the mathematics department in Dundee being, like Pack, an Oxford graduate.
- Pack had never studied for a Ph.D. since he had gone straight from being an undergraduate to undertake war work.
- Returning to Britain after his year in the United States, Pack was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Manchester taking up the position in the autumn of 1952.
- The Glasgow Royal Technical College that Pack had joined was an ancient institution, founded in 1796 as the Andersonian Institute.
- The Mathematics Department that Pack headed was small, consisting of only six members of staff, and before Pack's appointment it undertook no research, offered no degree in mathematics, and only provided service teaching for other science and engineering departments.
- Donald set up a group studying transonic flow which soon gained international recognition, not least by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research which provided funding over a period of almost 10 years.
- In the early 60s, Donald's research interests moved into the areas of non-equilibrium flow and rarefied gas dynamics.
- The Royal Technical College had become the Royal College of Science and Technology in 1956 but it soon began to plan to gain university status and for this Pack's building a research environment was exactly what was required.
- In the ten years that he had led the Department, Pack had changed it from one doing essentially no research into the leading Applied Mathematics department in Scotland.
- During his career Pack made visits to a number of different European institutions.
- We must mention the number of important roles that Pack played in supporting school mathematics in Scotland.
- He served as a member of the Dunbartonshire Education Committee from 1960 to 1966; he served on the General Teaching Council for Scotland from 1966 to 1973; he was chairman of Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board from 1969 to 1977; and he chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Truancy and Indiscipline in Schools in Scotland for three years from 1974 which produced Pack Report.
- Pack was awarded a OBE for his services to education in 1969 and, nine years later in 1978, he was awarded a CBE, also for services to education.
- At the very start of his career, Pack was directed towards military applications of mathematics due to World War II.
- We mentioned Pack's love of music at the beginning of this biography but we should say more about this since he made some remarkably important contributions.
- Donald fetched his violin and the two of them ended up playing duets.
- Pack was only ever an amateur violinist, playing for pleasure, but for many years he enjoyed playing in a string quartet in his own home.
- It was in December 1978 that Pack received the first £5000 instalment of a £20000 pump-priming grant from the Carnegie Trust and formally announced the founding of the Orchestra.
- Although music was Pack's greatest hobby, he also enjoyed gardening and golf.
Born 14 April 1920, Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, England. Died 3 December 2016, Bearsden, Glasgow, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive