J.H. Pound

The man who took those first aerial photographs of the Rice campus in 1917 was Professor J.H. Pound, shown here at about that time. Pound was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1890 and received a bachelors and then a masters degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. He spent a couple of years at Westinghouse before he came to Rice in 1914 as an instructor. He was a small, soft-spoken, unassuming man, popular with both faculty and students and he was locally a bit famous for riding around everywhere on a big bicycle with wide handlebars.

This was in the days before a lot of research was done by the engineering faculty, but Pound did do a little bit, much of it focused how to adapt machinery for instructional purposes. He also wrote letters to scholarly journals, often posing interesting and practical puzzles for other in his field. I was fascinated by the one here, written in 1933 and published in a journal called “Mechanical Engineering.” If anyone can clue me in about the current pronunciation of “enthalpy,” I’d be grateful.

Apart from two years spent overseas in military service during World War I, Pound spent the rest of his life in Houston. At the Institute he was promoted twice, first to assistant professor and finally to full professor. He also consulted for the Hughes Tool Company for many years. Interestingly, Pound, who was a very handsome young man when he arrived at Rice, married a member of the first Rice Institute graduating class, Ruth Robinson. She’s second from the left in this picture, the lovely young woman in the suit with her hair falling in her face. I know little about her, but there are a lot of pictures of her in the scrapbooks of her classmates and she looks pretty pensive in most of them. She was a descendant of an old Texas pioneer family and she taught school after graduation until she married Pound in 1919. She returned to teaching after his death from complications of appendicitis in 1942, and taught for twenty-one years (nineteen of them at Lanier Junior High) before her own death.

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10 Responses to J.H. Pound

  1. Mike says:

    I pronounce enthalpy as: IN-thal-pee (“thal” rhymes with “shall”)

  2. Bill says:

    I have always heard it with the accent on the second syllable, but I am not an engineer, so it is not something that comes up alot:)

  3. Mike says:

    This quantity is commonly discussed in Freshman and Physical Chemistry. We need to get more of those alumni to read this blog. 🙂

    Here’s a link to a pronunciation website — http://www.forvo.com/word/enthalpy/ — where a recorded voice speaks the word. They also use a first-syllable emphasis.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Pound’s argument for emphasizing the second syllable makes sense, but I guess it just feels wrong. Hard to fight that.

      (Notice that I’ve refrained from making a joke about chemists.)

  4. Lisa Childs says:

    I pronounce it like ‘entropy,’ with an accent on the first syllable, but the second syllable is not as clear as ‘shall.’ More like the sound of the second syllable of ‘it’ll’. Or a short upsidedown ‘e’ sound. (Is that a schwa? Something like that.) But it’s been a long time since I’ve needed to discuss enthalpy in polite company.

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