Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Watson, Arthur E.

Arthur Eugene Watson (1866-1956), professor of engineering, was born in Providence on March 4, 1866. He graduated from Brown in 1888, and went to work with the Thompson-Houston Electric Company in Lynn, Massachusetts, and moved to Schenectady, New York, after the company became part of General Electric. He came back to Brown in 1895 as instructor in physics. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1899. He founded a department in the new field of electrical engineering. His title was changed to assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1914, and associate professor in 1920. In 1924 he designed the electrical plant for the airship Shenandoah. During World War II he designed electrical parts for Navy planes. After retirement in 1936 he continued his research in electrical engineering projects, some of them for military purposes.

When Watson died on October 29, 1956, Professor Frederick N. Tompkins 1917, one of his students, wrote in the memorial minute for the faculty:

“He was a capable engineer who combined to a marked degree the qualities of the theorist with those of the practical man. He was able not only to design apparatus and systems but to build them himself. This ability made him of great value during the developmental days of Electrical Engineering and of particular value to his students. ... he was a gentleman and scholar of the old school. Greek, Latin, and the English of Chaucer came as readily to his mind as the intricate formulas and theories of Electrical Engineering. He had a fine command of English, which, combined with a rather elfin sense of humor, made his lectures and informal talks a pleasure to listen to. By nature he was a very calm person, certainly not of the worrying type. He had great religious faith, which seemed to assure him that all would be for the best, no matter what happened.”