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Ronald T Harding

We are sorry to have to report the death, on 10 October, of Ronald (Ron) Harding, Chartered Engineer, Chief Experimental Office and Instructor, who retired from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and subsequently moved to Australia.

Born in 1933, Ron Harding was educated at Roundhay Grammar School before pursuing HNC qualifications in Engineering during a student apprenticeship, culminating in his being awarded the George Bray prize for HNC examination results in 1954. After two years in the RAF technical branch, spent mainly in Germany, Ron returned to Yorkshire as a Design and Development Engineer for Imperial Metals Ltd, joining the University in 1959 to become an Engineer/Demonstrator in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Ron Harding brought an impressive range of skills to his position and over the course of his long career these found expression in a wide variety of ways. Perhaps foremost, he was an extremely talented designer. His Head of Department once observed that most of the specialised equipment in the Department had been designed by Ron. He also demonstrated a strong aptitude for teaching. He lectured in machine design on a number of first-year modules and on the MSc in Tribology; he also supervised many final year undergraduate projects. He played an active role in designing the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory, in which he subsequently taught. The very high reputation enjoyed by design teaching at Leeds owed much to Rons considerable abilities, allied to his infectious enthusiasm and impeccable professionalism qualities which also ensured his stock stood high with his fellow engineers in industry.

Extremely conscientious, Ron assumed departmental responsibilities in relation to administration and admissions; laboratory management; professional accreditation; liaison with industry; and guiding visiting fellows. He also collaborated on a number of interdisciplinary projects, notably with Professor Mike Savage of the School of Physics and Astronomy (and formerly a member of the School of Mathematics) in order to develop The Leeds Mechanics Kit for the teaching of applied mathematics (mechanics) in schools, supported by the Gatsby Foundation. His expertise received further recognition when, in 1970, he was seconded to the University of Nairobi in order to set up an undergraduate engineering design programme.

On his return to Leeds, Ron threw himself back into University life with characteristic vigour, serving his colleagues with diligence and clear sightedness for fifteen years as the departmental representative of the AUT and the wider University community as a member of several committees, including the Student Welfare Board and two terms upon the University Council. For a number of years he also undertook the administrative responsibilities associated with the annual Leeds-Lyon Symposium on Tribology, whilst outside the University he also spent many years lending his expertise, as Chair, to the Interviewing Board to select Ministry of Defence technicians for training.

Dedicated and indefatigable, Ron will be remembered with affection and immense esteem by colleagues and students alike.