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 Obituary | Chester M. McKinney | 1920-2017
Chester M. McKinney, former Acoustical Society of America (ASA) President, Gold Medalist, and winner of many US Navy and professional society awards, died on January 21, 2017.
Born in Cooper, TX, he graduat- ed in 1941 from East Texas State Teachers College and taught high-school physics before serv-
ing in the US Army Air Corps (1942-1946) as a radar officer.
After World War II, Chester attended the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), earning a master’s degree in physics under Robert Watson (1947) and a doctorate under Claude Horton (1950), while becoming the first graduate student at UT Austin’s Defense Research Laboratory (DRL), now the Applied Research Laboratories (ARL:UT). After teaching at Texas Technological University (1950-1953), he returned to the DRL and soon became an expert in high-resolution so- nar physics and engineering. His research focused on devel- oping sonar for the detection and classification of undersea naval mines and on a wide variety of related subjects such as the backscattering of sound from the seafloor, the scattering of sound from mine cases and other targets, bottom map- ping, and swimmer detection. His insight and pioneering re- search led to the new field of classification sonar, which en- abled a sonar operator to distinguish naval mines from the numerous false targets found in shallow water. He also pub- lished many papers in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America on the acoustic fields of transducers, especially the incorporation of reflector shapes to efficiently create narrow sound beams. He became a sagacious and insightful leader and was director of DRL/ARL:UT during formative peri- ods of its history (1965-1980), which included developing a widely recognized science and engineering staff and a new building and research campus as well as a first-class under- water test facility at nearby Lake Travis. The history of DRL/ ARL:UT pertaining to acoustics is summarized in a Proceed- ings of Meetings on Acoustics article (23, 070014, 2015).
Chester joined the ASA in 1953, became a Fellow in 1958, and provided legendary service to the Society. His many con- tributions to the ASA included being a founding member of the Technical Committee on Underwater Acoustics and its first chair (1956), and he was instrumental in the establish- ment of three committees: Archives, Tutorials, and Public Relations. He chaired the local committee for the 1975 Aus- tin meeting, where he proposed and implemented changes to meeting formats that continue today: the poster sessions, the plenary sessions for presentations and awards, and the Tuesday and Thursday evening socials. In 1989, he directed the first comprehensive census of the Society membership.
Chester married Linda Hooten in 1949, and their 68 years of marriage saw the birth of two daughters, Margaret Phoebe and Katherine Elizabeth, as well as five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
After retiring from ARL:UT, he served as liaison scientist with the Office of Naval Research in London, UK (1983- 1984). In 2000, a new ARL:UT building was named in his honor. Further information on Chester McKinney is found on the Web links and
Selected Articles by Chester M. McKinney
McKinney, C. M., and Anderson, C. D. (1964). Backscattering of sound from the ocean bottom. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 36, 158-163.
McKinney, C. M., Harvel, K. W., and Ellis, G.E. (1972). Characteristics of line and disk underwater sound transducers in the near- to farfield tran- sition region. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 51, 1076- 1082.
McKinney, C. M., Hurdle, B. G., and Blue, J. E. (1992). A profile of the acoustics community in the United States and Canada, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91, 1169-1179.
Written by:
Thomas G. Muir, Email: Clark S. Penrod, Email:
Applied Research Laboratories, The University of Texas at Austin
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