”Memorial of K.H.Roscoe“by Peter Smart

In Kenneth Harry Roscoe, M.C., T.D., M.A., Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University, A collection of memories of some of his students and colleagues, 26 only, c.1973, compiled, edited, [and distributed], by Tim Hambly and Peter Coupe.

1. Ken Roscoe was a One-hundred-percent type of man, determined both to improve the quality of life and to see good research done.

2. It was paradoxical that this determination led him into battles and disagreements; but it was typical of him that these were short-lived.

3. His approach to research was simple. Money was needed, money would be obtained. Space was needed, space would be acquired. Assistance was needed, assistants would be found. Since a large group is more efficient, colleagues and students would be recruited. Since quality depends on criticism, criticism would be provided. Since innovation depends on stimulation, distinguished engineers would be persuaded to visit the Group. Since significant progress depends on it, work would be concentrated on a few fundamental themes. The whole success of the Cambridge Soil Mechanics Group depended on the vigorous execution of this programme.

4. The Roscoe approach to research students was even simpler. Taught to punt correctly from the “wrong” end, fed a diet of parties, steered through their vicissitudes, supported in their troubles: from the moment they reached Cambridge, they and their wives were spontaneously and warmly adopted as members of the family, by both him and Janet. Perhaps this policy had been consciously evaluated; but the friendliness was genuine and instinctive to both of them.

5. People were important to him; quality was important to him; but perhaps Ken Roscoe’s greatest contribution was to remind us of the virtue of trying.

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