Obituary: Professor Brian Helliwell

John Brian Helliwell, applied mathematician, born York 2 January 1924, Professor of Engineering Mathematics Bradford University 1968-85, married 1951 Joyce Hutchinson (three daughters), died Leeds 14 July 1992.

BRIAN HELLIWELL was a Yorkshireman and a distinguished applied mathematician.

After obtaining a first class honours degree in mathematics at Leeds University in 1945 he was, like many of his contemporaries, directed to undertake his war service in government and industrial scientific establishments. He spent time at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, and at the gas department of Metro Vickers, Manchester. He then returned to Leeds to study for a doctorate, on 'control theory'.

Helliwell then entered an academic career. After short stays at Birmingham and Manchester, he moved to what is now Strathclyde University and became a Reader in gas dynamics. He made his final career move in 1968 to Bradford University, to become its first professor of engineering mathematics.

After Helliwell's early work in control and then in astrophysics, in the mid-Fifties his research interests changed to gas dynamics, focusing on the flow of gases at transonic speeds. With aircraft being designed to fly at high subsonic and supersonic speeds, work in this field was most pressing. The mathematics involved was very complex and solutions at that time had to be found without the help of powerful computers. He made considerable contributions to this work, published in various journals.

In the early 1960s he turned his attention to the field of magneto- gas dynamics. His best contribution to scientific knowledge was his pioneering work in this area which dealt with the flow of a conductive gas in a magnetic field. He was particularly concerned with shock waves and combustion waves, but also did work on the effects of thermal radiation.

Brian Helliwell was well known and liked in the world of applied mathematicians and was a regular member at the annual meetings of the British Theoretical Mechanics Colloquium from its founding in the late 1950s. He was also an influential member of the Yorkshire Applied Maths Colloquium. For his contributions to mathematics he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

The chair of engineering mathematics at Bradford University, of which he was the first holder, was created because of the importance of mathematics in engineering. It was appreciated that mathematics should be an integral part of an engineer's training and that it should not be taught as an isolated subject. He and his staff collaborated closely with the various engineering departments to ensure that this was the case.

In later years Helliwell became more involved with the university administration, an area in which, because of his temperament and meticulous attention to detail, he was very able. He was Dean of the Board of Studies in Engineering, and from 1980 to 1983 a Pro Vice- Chancellor. During this period of office he was a considerable asset in helping the university with drastic reductions in its finances and staffing-levels.

In 1985, for health reasons, he took early retirement. He moved to his much-loved north Yorkshire, where he took great delight in his garden. If it is true that one can choose friends but not family, then his many friends and his wife Joyce chose very wisely, while his three daughters have been very fortunate. Brian Helliwell was a good man with a true sense of humility.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album