Andrey Abraham Potter

Andrey Abraham Potter
Vilna, Russian Empire
Death date
Associated organizations
Kansas State Agricultural College
AIEE Lamme Medal


Andrey Abraham Potter was born at Vilna in the Russian Empire, August 5, 1882, and was a son of Gregor and Rivza (Pelonsky) Potter. At the age of fifteen years he came to the United States and in this country secured all his technical training. From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he received his degree of S. B., in 1903, and in the summer session of 1908 he took a post graduate course in Columbia University. From 1903 to 1905 his activities gave him practical experience in steam turbine construction while in the employ of the General Electric Company at Schenectady, New York. Further practical engineering experience was gained with the General Electric Company at Lynn, and in consulting work in connection with the gas and natural oil fields, oil engines, power plant economies, municipal and private steam-electric and gas-electric power plants, continuing from 1905 to 1915.

Additionally, from 1905 to 1910, Professor Potter was assistant professor in mechanical engineering and from 1910 to 1913 professor of mechanical engineering in the Kansas State Agricultural College, after which, until April, 1914, he was acting dean of the division of engineering and acting director of the engineering experiment station, since then he has been dean of the engineering division, director of the engineering experiment station and professor of steam and gas engineering. Hence, for eleven years he has been identified with this institution, working faithfully for its progress and rejoicing in every advance made.

As an author in the line of his profession, he has to his credit some seventy signed articles which have been published in such standard journals as Power, the Electrical World and the Coal Age, and other published articles on such subjects as: fuels, gas producers, steam and gas engines, steam turbines, power plant auxiliaries and power plant economics. He was responsible for about twelve bulletins on various phases of engineering research, all these papers being seasonable and scientific and demonstrating the thoroughness of his knowledge and the enthusiasm with which he has grappled with this difficult subject. Mr. Potter is also the author of a book, "Form Motors," which deals in the main with heat engines, concerning which it is a liberal education. On many occasions he has read and presented papers at meetings of the Land Grant College Engineering Association, the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education (of which organization he is a member of the council, being secretary also of the former), the National Association of Stationary Engineers (of which he is an honorary member), the Kansas Local Engineering and Scientific Societies (of which he is a member), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and other professional and scientific organizations. He has issued a valuable bulletin on boiler room economics in connection with Kansas State Agricultural College Engineering Experiment Station.

In 1906 Mr. Potter was united in marriage with Miss Eva Burtner, who was born in Kansas, and they have two children: James Gregor and Helen, aged respectively nine and five years. Mr. Potter was identified with the Masonic fraternity and belongs to several college honorary fraternities, including the Sigma Tau Engineering fraternity and the Phi Kappa Phi.

In 1920 he went to Purdue and there was named Dean of the School of Engineering and Director of the Engineering Experiment Station, a post which he held for some 33 years. From 1945 to 1946 he was Acting President and Director of the Purdue Research Foundation and in 1953 Dean Emeritus of Engineering.

He was presented the prestigious Lamme Medal for 1940 recognizing his contributions to engineering education. In 1943 the Western Society of Engineers presented him with the Washington Award for distinguished leadership in engineering education and research and patriotic service in mobilizing technical knowledge for victory in war and peace. Potter also received the 75th Anniversary Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the 1950 Americanism Award, the Cyrus Hall McCormick Medal and the NSPE Award. He was presented the McCormick Medal for contributions to agricultural engineering. His text, Steam and Gas Power Engineering written with J. P. Calderwood, KSAC professor of mechanical engineering, was published four months prior to his move to Purdue the same year, Elements of Engineering Thermodynamics, co-authored with Calderwood and James S. Moyer, was published.

He was President of ASME, ASEE, the Kansas and Indiana Engineering Societies, and the American Engineering Council. He was a member of Sigma Tau, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi.

Even after his formal retirement from Purdue in 1953, he continued to make himself available for consultation. He continued as president of the Bituminous Coal Research, an industrial organization, until 1960. The man known affectionately as the "Dean of the Deans of Engineering Universities" died November 5, 1979.