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Emeritus Professor Chris Sheppard

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 22 September 2022, of Emeritus Professor Christophe Sheppard, former Professor of Applied Thermodynamics and Combustion Science in the School of Mechanical Engineering.  The following tribute has been contributed by his family.

Chris Sheppard was educated at Isleworth Grammar School in Middlesex and studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds where he obtained his BSc (Hons) in 1966. Following graduation, he was employed by Rolls Royce, first as a graduate apprentice, then as a combustion development engineer, working on the Olympus 593 engine that powered Concorde. He returned to Leeds as a PhD student in 1968 and his research on “Electoral Phenomena in Flames” resulted in the award of the PhD in 1971.

There followed an appointment as Lecturer at Loughborough University where Chris’s research focussed on emissions from gas turbines. He was persuaded to return to Leeds to take up the post of Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1974 where his undergraduate teaching included applied thermodynamics, combustion, refrigeration, air conditioning and nuclear engineering.

His PhD studies and Rolls Royce placements had also driven an enthusiasm for further research based on the sound application of combustion science to the problems of efficient engine combustion with menial pollutants. In the gas turbine field, he continued his liaisons with Rolls Royce and extended his combustion research interests to gasoline and diesel engines in which fields he led the Department’s research endeavours. Chris played the leading role in 1990 in securing funding from the Wolfson Foundation for the Wolfson Engine Research Laboratory.

The overall pattern of Chris’s research was impressive, covering combustion in gas turbines, the mechanisms by which autoignition and knock develop in diesel and gasoline engines, the measurement of burning velocities, flame structure, ignition and the influence of turbulence on the subsequent rate of burning. He was active in the field of air conditioning, particularly the performance of air conditioning/heat pump equipment.

Chris was also a driving force in the development of the computer code LUSIE (Leeds University Spark Ignition Engine) that models reciprocating engine combustion and played a leading role in the development of advanced diagnostic techniques. During these activities significant relationships were cemented with such notables as Jaguar, Ford, Daimler Benz, VW, BP, Shell, Laporte, Sasol as well as countless universities.

Chris’s undergraduate teaching and research supervision were exceptional both in their thoroughness and quality but also showing no concession to shallowness and superficiality. He served as the Department Industrial Liaison Officer from 1974-91 and then as Postgraduate Admission Tutor and Director of Learning and Teaching.

Chris also enjoyed contributing to the taught MSc and research collaborations of the interdisciplinary Centre for Combustion and Energy Studies, established in 1967, based on the Departments of Fuel and Energy, Mechanical Engineering and Physical Chemistry. He was the Centre’s Deputy Director from 1989-91.

The new knowledge created by his internationally recognized researches were cascaded to possible points of application through his painstakingly structured published papers, industrial seminars, short courses, conferences, MSc and final year options. All of this was a splendid fulfilment of the then Vice-Chancellor Lord Boyle’s description of the remit to teach in an atmosphere of research.

Chris was a highly respected assessor and examiner of great wisdom. Nationally between 1996 and 2000, he served as Chair of both the Combustion Physics Group of the Institute of Physics as well as the Universities Internal Combustion Group, formed to encourage collaboration on engine research between the UK universities and UK industrial partners. An active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), he served on the local committee of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and its automobile division. In 1985, Chris was a British Council Lecturer at several Egyptian universities.

Chris was a private but sociable colleague who enjoyed attending various social events organized through the department such as the annual Christmas walk in the Dales. Family and colleagues alike fondly remember a number of drinks parties hosted successfully at home by Chris and Jenny.

Following a successful retirement Chris and Jenny moved to North Devon with their beloved Airedale terriers where they continued to enjoy life by the spectacular coast.

Chris died peacefully surrounded by his beloved wife, Jenny and children Thomas, Michael and Eleanor on 22 September 2022.

To his family, Chris will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, uncle and a wonderful grand-dad; his quiet wisdom and great courage is, and will continue to be, greatly missed.

To his friends and colleagues, their memory will always be of a dependable, honest and trustworthy man of great integrity. A former colleague and Department grandee remembered Chris wonderfully:

“So much fun and enjoyment in conquering difficult bits of science together. He was a giant in our combustion group looking after all the difficult engine research and everybody. So many students owe such a lot to him. He lives on through all the scientific papers headed by his name. I shall never forget his integrity, decency, and sense of fun”

We will continue to remember a wonderful man, always loved and in our hearts.