Remembering Dr. Robert Anderson

Source: Laura L. Liptai, PhD

Engineering & Applied Sciences Section Fellow Robert N. Anderson passed away Monday, March 13, 2023, at age 89, after a long illness. He was surrounded by family, singing his favorite folk songs.  He was born November 8, 1933. Mrs. Anderson extends her invitation:

Funeral services will be at Oak Hill Memorial Park, 300 Curtner Ave., San Jose on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, beginning at 10 a.m. viewing. Services will be at 11 a.m. for family, and all friends, neighbors, and colleagues wishing to attend.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Dru Anderson. who also was his partner in their forensic engineering consultant business, based in Los Altos Hills, and closed in 2022. He further is survived by their two sons Todd and Scott; three granddaughters, ages 10, 7, and 5; Todd's wife, Jill, and Scott's friend, Ferne Ran. Bob and his family moved to Los Altos Hills in 1986 from Palo Alto.

Bob and Dru were among the charter members in 2002 of the town's Emergency Communications Committee (ECC) of which Dru KG6LAD was a chairman several times over the committee's span of 20 years. In ham radio parlance, Bob KC6ZWG is now Silent Key.

He was a retired consultant in forensic engineering and retired professor of materials and metallurgical engineering, San Jose State University.  He received his doctorate from Stanford University School of Applied Earth Sciences and was a post-doctoral professor there before joining the SJS Materials Engineering faculty where he served to retirement.

For his undergraduate work, he attended the University of San Francisco, where he earned his first of two bachelor's degrees, this one in chemistry. His second BS degree and master's degrees were from UC Berkeley in chemistry and in chemical engineering.

His 1959 master's thesis was on the effect of ultrasonic energy on the rate of heat transfer to water. He was a civilian Navy employee and was awarded by the Navy a fellowship to Stanford for his PhD from the school of Applied Earth Sciences. His 1970 dissertation on the Thermodynamics of Nitride Reactions in Molten Uranium-Tin Alloys was a hefty 406 pages. He and his professor patented their research findings in nuclear fuel reprocessing.

Bob was born November. 8,1933 in San Jose but grew up in San Francisco. While his dad worked in Arabia, his mom went back and forth, and Bob stayed with his maternal grandparents, or visited summers in Arabia. When the Saudis failed to build an intended high school in time, Bob supplanted his education by reading of the Britannica Encyclopedia from A to Z.

He was active in leadership in several professional organizations. He was among the founders and a past president of the Society of Forensic Engineers and Scientists (SFES), and past president of National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE), and leadership roles at American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AiCHE), past president of the International Board of Forensic Engineering Sciences and the American Academy of Forensic Scientists (AAFS).  In AAFS, he served as beloved chair of the engineering and applied sciences section (EAS) and EAS director. 

He published in the areas of thermodynamics, corrosion, surface chemistry, fire analysis, and understandings of archaeological materials. Regarded by his family, friends, and colleagues as a scholar and a good-humored gentleman, he contributed as a professor, as a forensic scientist, and to community service.

Bob liked short, succinct action meetings. He was good-natured, arrived at the airport 3-3.5 hours early, and loved dessert. 

Please join us in gratitude for the life of our dear Bob Anderson.


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