David Crosthwait

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David N. Crosthwait, Jr.[1]
Born May 27, 1898
Nashville, Tennessee
Died February 25, 1976(1976-02-25)
Nationality American
Education Purdue University
Engineering career
Discipline Electrical, Mechanical
Practice name dirty dan
Employer(s) C.A. Dunham Company (now Marshall Engineered Products Co.)[2]
Projects Radio City Music Hall (Heating system)
Awards Honorary Doctorate (Purdue University)

David Crosthwait (May 27, 1898 – February 25, 1976) was an African-American mechanical and electrical engineer, inventor, and writer. He was born in the city of Nashville, Tennessee. He grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. Once he completed high school he received a Bachelor of Science (1913) and a Masters of Engineering (1920) from Purdue University. He was granted an honorary doctoral degree in 1975[2] but died one year later.[1]


Crosthwait’s expertise was on air ventilation, central air conditioning, and heat transfer systems. With this knowledge he created many different heating systems, refrigeration methods, temperature regulating devices, and vacuum pumps. For these inventions he holds 39 United States patents, as well as 80 international patents.[2] In the 1920s and 1930s Crosthwait invented a vacuum pump, a boiler, and a thermostat control, all for more effective heating systems for larger buildings. Some of his greatest accomplishments were for creating the heating systems for the Rockefeller Center and New York’s Radio City Music Hall.[1]

He later wrote and revised an instruction manual and guides for heating and cooling with water and guides, standards, and codes that dealt with heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems.

Later life[edit]

After retiring from the field in 1971, Crosthwait began to teach a course on steam heating theory and control systems at Purdue University.[2] He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Purdue University in 1975,[2] and died one year later in 1976.


  1. ^ a b c Gale, Thomson (2005). "David N., Jr. Crosthwait Biography". BookRags. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Mitchell, H. (April 2001). "Inventor of the Week Archive: David Crosthwait". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 

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