Society News

In Memoriam, William Carey 

Mark Dwortzan, Reprinted from Boston University website

Professor William Carey (me), 69, a leading researcher in the field of underwater acoustics, died Wednesday, July 11 at his home in Old Lyme, Connecticut after a long illness.

A professor in the mechanical engineering department since 1999, Carey’s research centered on the design and performance of underwater acoustic antennae known as arrays, which have been widely used in tracking enemy submarines and exploring the marine environment.

Carey’s recent work on arrays focused on the development and demonstration of towed hydrophone arrays used to detect sound in shallow water coastal areas and ports. overall, his array technology research contributed significantly to array design and calibration, at-sea array measurements and the understanding of how ocean and seabed environmental properties determine array performance.

Also a leading expert on ocean ambient noise, Carey conducted extensive studies of noise from breaking waves and the signal-to-noise ratio that towed and other arrays sense in the real ocean environment. in recent years he measured the ambient noise produced by micro-bubbles and bubble clouds resulting from sea surface activity, and helped determine that these clouds can optimally radiate and scatter low frequency sound.

In 2007 the acoustical Society of America awarded Carey the Pioneer of Underwater acoustics Silver medal for his contributions to understanding ocean ambient noise and defining the limits of acoustic array performance in the ocean. at the time, only 16 other individuals had earned this distinction since the medal was introduced in 1959.

“Those who have the privilege of working more closely with bill soon realize that there is a wealth of wisdom and experience in his flood of words, and a lot of scientific and engineering originality as well,” James Lynch, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said in introductory remarks for Carey’s award ceremony. “That Bill’s passion, experience, knowledge, and insight first gets expressed verbally is a stylistic thing—what is more important is that Bill’s words are usually the prelude to some vigorous action, be it experimental, theoretical, pedagogical, advisory or editorial. even at this senior stage of his career, Bill still actively goes to sea, works hands on with electronic and mechanical equipment, develops new mathematical theory and ‘shows the students how it’s done.’”

In reaction to the news of Carey’s passing, Boston University mechanical engineering department Chair and Professor Ronald A. Roy, who worked closely with him for over two decades, said, “a dedicated educator and consummate leader, Bill was a completely unique individual who possessed a broad spectrum of knowledge which he readily applied to a host of important scientific and national security problems related to oceanic engineering and underwater acoustics. He touched many lives over the course of a distinguished career and will be singularly missed by students, friends and colleagues.”

Carey was a member of the Cosmos Club and Sigma Xi; a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; recipient of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society’s distinguished Technical achievement, Third millennium and distinguished Service awards; and editor emeritus of the Journal of Oceanic Engineering and an associate editor of the Journal of the acoustical Society. Carey was also an adjunct professor of applied mathematics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic institute and an adjunct scientist in applied ocean physics and engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

He was born in Boston in 1943 but spent most of his youth in Germany. He attended Catholic University of America, where he received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1965, a master’s degree in physics in 1968 and a doctorate in 1974. after his doctoral work, he worked at the Argonne national laboratory from 1974 to 1979. over the next three decades, he worked for a number of different laboratories and agencies, including the naval research laboratory, naval Underwater Systems Center and the defense advanced research Projects agency, doing both ocean acoustics research and managerial work. He joined the BU faculty after a two-year stint at MIT’s department of ocean engineering.

Editor’s Note: Bill served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering (2011–2012), having served previously in that capacity (1992–1998). Bill also served as an elected member to the Administrative Committee for OES.