Obituary - Professor Brian Wilshire OBE FREng

Fellows' Lounge
1 Dec 2015

Professor Brian Wilshire OBE FREng 1937–2015

It is with deep regret that we report the death of Professor Brian Wilshire on 5 November at the age of 78. Throughout his long and successful career Brian, also known to his colleagues and friends as George, carried out world-leading research encompassing the fields of metallurgy, materials science and materials engineering. He is particularly recognised for his major contributions in the field of high temperature creep and fracture, which have been of major benefit to the power generation and aerospace industries. In that work he developed novel models for the processes involved and numerical models to quantify the associated deformation and failure mechanisms. This work continued until recent years, leading to the development and publication of the ‘Wilshire equations’. Particular achievements include the theta projection concept for creep life prediction, remnant life assessment and magnetic flake fingerprint technology.

Born in 1937, Brian was educated at Rhondda County Grammar School before entering what was then called the University of Wales, Swansea (now Swansea University) where he attained a First Class Honours degree in Metallurgy, a PhD and eventually, in recognition of his outstanding contributions, a DSc in 1983. His exceptional abilities were recognised at an early stage through his appointment to the lecturing staff before he had completed his PhD studies. He rapidly climbed the academic ladder before attaining a Personal Chair in 1982 and becoming Head of Materials Engineering in 1985. His exceptional leadership abilities meant that he held this position until 1999, when he voluntarily stepped down. During that period Materials Engineering at Swansea grew substantially in strength and capability with the award of an EPSRC Interdisciplinary Research Centre, an EPSRC Engineering Doctorate Centre in Steel Technology of which Brian was Director and a Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre. He was also a Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University between 1996 and 1999. 

It was as a result of these successes that Brian received an OBE, was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1993 and was presented with the Institute of Materials Platinum Medal in 1995. His research expertise was also recognised through his appointment as an Acta Metallurgica lecturer in 1991. That expertise led to over 200 peer reviewed publications and several books. The books included Technological and economic trends in the steel industries, Creep of metals and alloys and Introduction to creep. 

Away from his research and management activities, Brian was an excellent lecturer, which was widely recognised by all the students he came into contact with. This was also appreciated by Rolls-Royce for whom he presented a series of technology courses on creep, manufacturing technology and materials over a 25 year period. He also lectured extensively to students undertaking the Engineering Doctorate in Steels. Outside his academic work, Brian was a keen sportsman having represented Wales and the University of Wales in basketball in his younger days, and  he was a keen football supporter later in life.

Brian leaves behind his wife Marian and two sons Neville and Ralph plus several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Brian was truly one of a kind who will never be forgotten by anyone who met him – plus those who didn’t get the opportunity but heard the stories! He will be sadly missed.

Emeritus Professor John Evans