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Records of Heriot-Watt University
    Papers of Robert Allan Smith

Heriot-Watt University Archive, Records Management and Museum Service

Undergraduate Lecture Notes, Teaching Notes and Certificates

Series Summary

Reference Code

GB 0582 HWU 13-19



Extent and medium of the unit of description



Name of creator

Smith | Robert Allan | 1909-1980 | principal of Heriot-Watt University

Biographical History

Biographical History

Robert Allan Smith gained an MA with first class honours in mathematics and physics from the University of Edinburgh in 1930. He then studied at Cambridge where he obtained his BA degree in 1932 and was the winner of the Mayhew prize.

He then spent 3 years undertaking research at the Cavendish Laboratory on atomic collisions and collaborated with ETC Shire in a study into symmetry fluctuations in the angular distribution of monochromatic HE+ ions scattered in HE and with Sir Harrie Massey into collisions of positive ions in gases and later into negative ions. He was awarded his PhD in 1935.

He was Carnegie Teaching Fellow at St Andrews University from 1935 until 1939 when he became lecturer in mathematics at the University of Reading. During the war he worked for the Telecommunications Research Establishment on the development of radar and in 1945 he became chair of the physics department in the Telecommunications Research Establishment. He left government service in 1961 to become professor of physics at Sheffield University and a year later left to become professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the first director of their Centre of Materials Science and Engineering. He returned to the UK in 1968 to take up the post of Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The Undergraduate Lecture Notes, Teaching Notes and Certificates series consists of:

  • undergraduate lecture notes on: electricity, hydro dynamics, geometry, elementary quantum theory, optics, pure mathematics, philosophy and advanced calculus and analysis (1927-c1935)
  • Robert Allan Smith's PhD thesis: A Study of Collisions Between Heavy Atomic Particles, (1935)
  • teaching notes and lectures on quantum mechanics, hydrostatics, statistics, theoretical physics and mathematics (c1929-1971)
  • certificates of election as a fellow of the Royal Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1962-1964)




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Components of this series