In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Alan L. Rowen

Professor Emeritus Alan L. Rowen passed away in the early morning hours on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, after a battle with aplastic anemia.

Alan taught at Webb Institute for twenty-five years before retiring in 2001 with the title of Professor Emeritus. He was the first Rosenblatt Professor of Marine Engineering at the school, a title he held for ten years.

Alan was a 1965 graduate of SUNY Maritime. Following graduation, he sailed on merchant ships as a watch-standing engineer, later returning to the Maritime College as an Engineering Watch Officer and Instructor. He then joined the Naess Shipping Group as Manager of New Construction and moved to London. He returned to New York in 1977 to teach at Webb Institute. While at Webb, he worked as a research associate and as an independent consultant. Alan wrote a textbook on marine engineering and contributed to a number of publications that are widely used in the industry and by students at Webb and other schools.

Upon his retirement, Alan assumed the position of Technical Director at SNAME. He was named a Life Fellow of SNAME and chaired the Society’s Ships’ Machinery Committee.  He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineers and an officer of the Institute’s Eastern USA Branch.

He is survived by his wife, Alice, and two sons.

Comments made by the Webb community:

“Knowledgeable and dedicated to his profession. He worked us hard & we appreciated it. A huge loss for the community. Best wishes to the Rowen family & friends.” – Michael Birmann ’86

“So sorry to hear this. He was an excellent professor” – Scott Roodvoets ’86

“Al Rowen was truly the best professor I ever had. And the hardest, for sure. He knew his stuff and worked the students quite aggressively so that he could know that they knew their stuff, too. It wasn’t easy in his class. “Work assigned today was due yesterday” was a typical joke. But he had a great way of explaining things … especially one-on-one. And, boy, could he write on the chalkboard! Reams and reams of thermodynamic equations. (I’ll confess that I’ve forgotten much, 35+ years later). But if there’s one thing that Rowen taught me that HAS stuck with me, it’s this: the process of how to learn, and how to apply yourself. That has stuck with me, and it’s served me well throughout my professional and personal life. Rowen gets the gold star for that. From me, and dozens and dozens of other Webbies, I’m sure. He will most certainly be missed. But his legacy lives on in us all. And I am ever thankful for that.” – T.J. Perrotti ’85

“Rowen was the best. He really knew how to cram a lot of information into an hour, and even a thick-headed guy like me could get it. I’m deeply saddened at this news, Al a Rowan was a good man and a great teacher and role model.” – Douglas Goldhirsch ’85

“The man who showed the most personal concern for my well-being when I was disenrolled at the end of my junior year. I will always be grateful.” – Ivan Kirschner ’81X

“A fantastic teacher and colleague. Alan was knowledgeable, energetic, and intense. Offices next to each other, we spoke daily and often closed the door to laugh about something. His sense of humor might come as a surprise to some, but he was fun to discuss things with, and always honest.” – Richard Neilson ’70