ANN ARBOR—Joseph R. Akerman, University of Michigan associate professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, died Feb. 12 at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital here. He was 86 years old.
An expert in the heating and air conditioning field, Akerman had a diverse career bridging industry and academia and combining research and teaching.
Akerman joined the U-M faculty in 1956 following 11 years of work as an industrial engineer and nine years on the mechanical engineering faculty of the University of Wisconsin. From 1956 until his retirement from U-M in 1980, he was an associate professor of mechanical engineering. After 1967, he held an additional appointment as associate professor of mechanical engineering in architecture. Following his U-M retirement, Akerman formed a private consulting business in the field of heating, air conditioning and ventilation.
During his professional career, Akerman was active in research and teaching in the heat transfer and thermal fluids areas. Through combined courses with the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, he taught heating and air conditioning to many U-M engineering and architecture students.
Akerman received a B.S. degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1932, an M.S. from the U-M in 1933 and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1952.
He was a member of the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education and Sigma Xi. He also was a charter member and elder of Ann Arbor's Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Akerman is survived by his wife, Martha of Ann Arbor; his son, Thomas Kelly of Ypsilanti, Mich.; his daughter, Jane Schepler of Fenton, Mich.; a sister, Elizabeth Withrow of Morganton, N.C.; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Cremation has already taken place. A memorial service will be held on Saturday (Feb. 22) at 1 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1914 Greenview Drive in Ann Arbor. Memorial contributions may be made to the Westminster Presbyterian Memorial Fund or the Michigan Heart and Vascular Institute at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.