BU Today

Campus Life

ENG Professor William Carey Dies

An expert in field of underwater acoustics

William Carey Boston University BU Professor College of Engineering mechanical engineering, leading researcher underwater acoustics

Photo courtesy of the College of Engineering

William Carey, a College of Engineering professor of mechanical engineering and a leading researcher in the field of underwater acoustics, died July 11 at his home in Old Lyme, Conn., after a long illness.

Carey’s research centered on the design and performance of underwater acoustic antennae known as arrays, which have been widely used in tracking enemy submarines and exploring the marine environment.

His recent work focused on the development and demonstration of towed hydrophone arrays used to detect sound in shallow water, coastal areas, and ports. Overall, his array technology research contributed significantly to array design and calibration, at-sea array measurements, and the understanding of how ocean and seabed environmental properties determine array performance.

Also a leading expert on ocean ambient noise, Carey conducted extensive studies of noise from breaking waves and the signal-to-noise ratio that towed and other arrays sense in the real ocean environment. In recent years he measured the ambient noise produced by micro-bubbles and bubble clouds resulting from sea surface activity, and helped determine that these clouds can optimally radiate and scatter low-frequency sound.

In 2007 the Acoustical Society of America awarded him the Pioneer of Underwater Acoustics Silver Medal for his contributions to understanding ocean ambient noise and defining the limits of acoustic array performance in the ocean. At the time, only 16 other individuals had earned this distinction since the medal was introduced in 1959.

“Those who have the privilege of working more closely with Bill soon realize that there is a wealth of wisdom and experience in his flood of words, and a lot of scientific and engineering originality as well,” James Lynch, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said in introductory remarks at the award ceremony. “That Bill’s passion, experience, knowledge, and insight first gets expressed verbally is a stylistic thing—what is more important is that Bill’s words are usually the prelude to some vigorous action, be it experimental, theoretical, pedagogical, advisory, or editorial. Even at this senior stage of his career, Bill still actively goes to sea, works hands-on with electronic and mechanical equipment, develops new mathematical theory, and ‘shows the students how it’s done.’”

Ronald A. Roy, an ENG professor and chair of the mechanical engineering department, says Carey was “a dedicated educator and consummate leader.”

“Bill was a completely unique individual who possessed a broad spectrum of knowledge which he readily applied to a host of important scientific and national security problems related to oceanic engineering and underwater acoustics,” says Roy, who had worked closely with Carey for more than two decades. “He touched many lives over the course of a distinguished career and will be singularly missed by students, friends, and colleagues.”

Carey was a member of the Cosmos Club and Sigma Xi, a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a recipient of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society’s Distinguished Technical Achievement, Third Millennium, and Distinguished Service awards, editor emeritus of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, and an associate editor of the Journal of the Acoustical Society. He was also an adjunct professor of applied mathematics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an adjunct scientist in applied ocean physics and engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Born in Boston in 1943, Carey spent most of his youth in Germany. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1965, a master’s degree in physics in 1968, and a doctorate in 1974, all from Catholic University of America. He worked at the Argonne National Laboratory from 1974 to 1979. Over the next three decades, he worked for a number of different laboratories and agencies, including the Naval Research Laboratory, the Naval Underwater Systems Center, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, doing both ocean acoustics research and managerial work.

Carey joined the BU faculty in 1999, after a two-year stint at MIT’s department of ocean engineering.

Carey is survived by his wife, Susanne Colten-Carey; his sons, William and Frederick; his step-children, Tamara and Bradley; his grandchildren, Krystine, Brianna, Allison, Sean, Hannah, Jed, Quinn, Lael and Emily; and his nieces and nephews, Caitlin, Joseph, Alex, Robbie, Anne and Meredith.

A memorial service will take place on Sunday, July 22 at 1 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation Church, 19 Jay Street, New London, Connecticut.

Mark Dwortzan can be reached at dwortzan@bu.edu.

+ Comments

Post Your Comment

(never shown)