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Eric Gerard

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Eric Gerard (1856-1915)

1916 Obituary [1]

ERIC GERARD was born in Liege in 1856 and graduated at the University of Liege in 1873 with the degrees of Ingcnieur Honoraire des Mines and Ingenieur des Arts et Manufactures. After completing his studies at the Belgian Government School of Posts and Telegraphs, he was appointed electrical engineer to the Belgian State Telegraphs. In 1881 he served as Joint Secretary with M. Mascart to the Electrical Congress in Paris.

In 1883 he was appointed Principal of the newly established electrical college which had been founded and endowed by the late Senator Montcfiorc as an adjunct to the University of Liege. This was one of the first colleges of its kind. He was the author of "Elements d'Electrotechnique " and of "Lecons sur l'Electricite," many editions of which have appeared and which have also been translated into English. He also published "Mesures Electriques" and "Traction Electrique," and just before his death was working on an entirely revised edition of his works. He collaborated with his chief assistant, M. de Bast, in writing "Exercices et Projets d'Electrotechnique."

He was President of the Belgian Official Board of Electricity and member for Belgium of the International Electrotechnical Commission, was Officer of the Order of Leopold, and also held many other Orders. He presided at one of the early meetings of the International Electrotechnical Commission held at Brussels in 1910, and it was he who arranged for the delegates to be conducted through the Brussels Exhibition and who conducted them to Liege, where they were received by members of the Montefiore Electrotechnical College. Professor Gerard took a keen interest in the nomenclature of electrical units and was present both in Paris and Cologne at the meetings of delegates of the Commission when these matters were discussed. He was called in to advise in connection with many engineering undertakings, and his opinion on these, both from a scientific as well as from a commercial side, was highly esteemed in the most influential circles. In his later years Professor Gerard took a great interest in the development of the Belgian Congo, having been appointed by King Leopold II to investigate the possibility of electrically treating the copper ores of the Katanga. He was one of the directors and founders of the Societe Geomine, the Chairman of which was the late M. A. Greiner, the general manager of the Cockerill Works of Seraing, near Liege. It was due to the efforts of this company that the large coal deposits in the Congo were discovered and worked, and it was also through its efforts that the very valuable tin deposits in that region were brought to light. Professor Gerard foresaw, as far back as 1890, the great future of electricity in connection with traction and also in metallurgy.

In addition to his ability as a professor, he had great personal charm and an attractive disposition which greatly attached to him all those who came under his influence. He combined with a very scientific mind, very sound commercial ideas, and was always quick to grasp the value of new ideas and discoveries; thus, he was the first to bring to the notice of Belgian doctors the great value of X-rays, and was the first to experiment with wireless telegraphy in Belgium. He has left his mark on the electrical and engineering world and there is no country where engineers who have been trained by him are not to be found occupying important and influential positions. He will be deeply mourned by all those who had the privilege of meeting him, by his friends, and by the wide circle of his students.

He was elected a Foreign Member of the Institution in 1883, a Member in 1911, and an Honorary Member in 1914.

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