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Award-winning teacher was engineering research pioneer

June 18, 2009

Warren Rice, Oct. 11, 1925 – June 5, 2009

Warren Rice, an emeritus professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering who was on the faculty of Arizona State University for more than 30 years, died on June 5 in Fountain Hills as a result of lung cancer.

Rice was at ASU from 1958 until 1990, and was one of the early leaders of engineering research at the university.

He was the “father of engineering research . . . a major force in improving the quality and quantity of engineering research at ASU,” said Harold Nelson, a former ASU engineering student and faculty member, and now an emeritus professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Rice had numerous significant research publications, and won several top teaching awards.

He was a recipient of the Faculty Research Award for the then-College of Engineering and Applied Science, the ASU Graduate College Distinguished Research Award, and the ASU Alumni Association Faculty Achievement Award.

A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Rice also was honored as the ASU Pi Tau Sigma Professor of the Year and the ASU Golden Key Honor Society Distinguished Teacher Award.

“He was clearly one of the best professors I had,” Nelson recalled. “His lectures were clear, concise and well organized, and his examinations were works of art. One learned more during his examinations than you did during class – a true genius at writing examinations.”

Acknowledgement of Rice’s accomplishments in engineering was reflected by high demand for his expertise. He was a consultant to numerous companies, universities and research programs from 1948 to 2000.

His expertise included some of the early efforts in environmental engineering.

Rice’s last publication, in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, concerned production of hydrogen through a carbon sequestration process, and he was a featured lecturer in 1995 in the United Arab Emirates for the Middle East Regional Workshop on Global Warming and Environmental Protection.

Rice was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Texas. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University.

He is survived by daughter Melisa Beth Pearce, of Longmont, Colo., son Breton Rice of Yuma, Ariz., sister Barbara Wooten of Tempe, Ariz., and brother Jerry Rice of San Antonio, Texas, five grandchildren and friend Geraldine Quisenberry.