Accomplished teacher, researcher authored textbooks on fluid mechanics and gas dynamics; discovered important phenomenon of reflecting pressure pulses between turbomachinery blades

Jerzy A. Owczarek, 94, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and mechanics, passed away January 11, 2021, after a battle with Parkinson’s disease. He had recently celebrated 61 years of marriage with his beloved wife, Elisa Mercedes (Basoli) Owczarek, who survives him.

Owczarek joined Lehigh as an associate professor in 1960, became a full professor in 1965, and retired in 1995. A gifted teacher, Owczarek was awarded an Outstanding Faculty Award by the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honorary Society in 1979, and named Mechanical Engineering Teacher of the Year by the Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honorary Society in 1993.

While at Lehigh, he published two books: Fundamentals of Gas Dynamics (1964) and Introduction to Fluid Mechanics 1968. His research in the fields of gas dynamics, turbomachinery, fluidics, and rheology resulted in 26 journal articles and 40 technical reports. From 1969–1973, he directed a Themis Project on Fluid Amplifiers at Lehigh; from 1990–1994 he collaborated on the design, building, and operation of the Gas Dynamics Laboratory at Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus. 
Jerzy Owczarek

Owczarek was born in Piotrkow, Poland, on November 2, 1926. He fought against German occupying forces during World War II as a member of the Polish Home Army (AK), was wounded, and lost sight in his left eye. When the Soviet Union occupied Poland in 1945, he was able to enroll at the Mining Academy in Krakow. His studies were abruptly halted in 1946, when he and a large number of fellow students were arrested for staging an anti-communist demonstration. After a short time in prison, Owczarek escaped the country and made his way to Italy, where he joined the 2nd Polish Corps of the British 8th Army in Ancona. A few months later, he was transported to England.

Owczarek resumed his studies at the Polish University College in London. He received a Dipl.-Ing. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1950 and went on to graduate studies at the University of London. He received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 1954 and soon after moved to the United States where he acquired a position in the Turbine Division of the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. 

His commitment to his work was evident in his many professional memberships: He was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Life Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. From 1976–1977 he was Chairman of the Anthracite-Lehigh Valley Section of the ASME. He was a member of the Tau Beta Pi Society and its Lehigh Chapter faculty advisor from 1991–1995; a member of the Sigma Xi national research society and the Pi Tau Sigma Society.

He was a consultant to numerous industrial firms, notably Bell Laboratories and DeLaval Turbine Inc.

In the course of his career, Owczarek filed seven patents dealing with turbomachines, steam turbines, and gas turbines.

Read his full obituary with information about survivors, funeral arrangements, and memorial contributions on the Cantelmi Long Funeral Homes website. 

Jerzy A. Owczarek

Jerzy A. Owczarek, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering and mechanics, passed away at the age of 94. During his research at Lehigh, he discovered an important phenomenon of reflecting pressure pulses between turbomachinery blades. He also authored textbooks on fundamentals of fluid mechanics and gas dynamics. Photos courtesy of Diana Driscoll '83