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Hoyt C. Hottel SM '24

Professor of Chemical Engineering Hoyt C. Hottel SM '24 passed away August 18 at his home in Winchester, MA. He was 95 years old.

Hottel came to MIT in 1922 from the University of Indiana. After getting his masters in chemical engineering in 1924, he stayed at MIT, working as an Institute fellow in fuel and gas and as director of the School of Chemical Engineering Practice.

He joined the faculty as a professor in 1928 and became a full professor in 1941. He was named the first Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering in 1965.

Professor Hottel helped found the Fuels Research Laboratory and directed it from 1929 to 1968. He also chaired the MIT Research Committee on Solar Energy from 1938 to 1964.

Hottel played an active role in research during World War II, serving as the chair of the National Defense Research Committee's group that developed incendiaries. He also led the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project Panel on Thermal Radiation.

In recognition of his work, he was honored with the Medal of Merit and Great Britain's Kings Medal for Service to the Cause of Freedom.

Hottel was named professor emeritus in 1968, but he continued to teach and work. He lectured overseas at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, and in South Africa.

Hottel also got involved in politics. In 1984, at the height of the Cold War, he volunteered, along with 55 scientists from 13 countries, to go to the Soviet Union in exchange for the release of dissident Yelena Bonner, who was fighting to get permission to go oversees for medical treatment. It was feared that if she went overseas she would not return to the Soviet Union.

After a series of hunger strikes by her husband, outspoken dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, Soviet Premier Mikhail S. Gorbachev allowed her to go overseas without the need for witnesses.

"He was a man of so many interests," said his daughter, Lois H. Wood. "Classical music certainly was at the top of his list he enjoyed the Boston Symphony regularly with my mother, a singer, for as many years as I can remember."

A skilled woodworker, Hottel also built kayaks for his daughters, hardwood coffee tables, and his own Christmas decorations.

In recognition of his contributions, MIT instituted the Hoyt C. Hottel Lectureship in 1985, and Hottel delivered the inaugural address. The Institute established the Hoyt C. Hottel Professorship in 1995.

He served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering and also was a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

He also accumulated a large number of awards, including the Sir Alfred Egerton Gold Medal from the Combustion Institute and the Melchett Medal from the Institute of Fuel in Great Britain. He was also honored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the International Solar Energy Society.

In addition to his daughter Lois, Hottel is survived by his son, Hoyt Hottel Jr., two other daughters, Barbara H Willis and Elizabeth H. Barrett, and 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Winchester Unitarian Church in Winchester on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m.