Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Peter Bowen, BSc (Civil Engineering) 1963, PhD 1967 (died 13 February 2006)

(Obituary and Appreciation by Professor Adrian Long)

Dr Peter Bowen, President of NELS Consulting Inc., a consulting and testing company in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada, at the time of his death on Monday, 13 February 2006, was an engineer of rare distinction and left a permanent mark on the power industry in North America.

After graduating with an honours degree in Civil Engineering from Queen’s University Belfast in 1963, Peter spent four years carrying out research on suspension bridges for his PhD. In 1967/68 he supervised the monitoring of the stresses which developed during the construction of the walls in the new dry dock in Belfast.

In 1968, he emigrated with his wife Myra to Canada to take up a post-doctoral fellowship at the world-leading wind tunnel test facility at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. The valuable experience gained there led to his appointment as a project engineer in Niagara Falls with HG Acres, the largest firm of consultants in Canada at the time. Two years later, he and two of his colleagues from Acres set up their own business to provide modelling services primarily for power utilities in the United States.

From the early 1970s Peter built up an enviable reputation for providing services which saved power utilities enormous sums of money. Suggested changes to the geometry of the ducts from the boilers to the chimneys led to improvements to the air flow, thereby greatly reducing the amount of ash deposited (otherwise blockages would have occurred) and the frequency of costly shutdowns for servicing. Because of the enormous added value of their work, the expertise of NELS staff and Peter in particular, was in great demand, mainly in the United States and Canada, but also in Central and South America. From time to time he was also called in to solve similar problems in European power stations.

Whilst this was the main line of business of NELS, Peter never shrank from a challenge and he advised many multi-national companies such as ALCOA in relation to complex engineering problems. Through his hard work and his undoubted expertise NELS expanded to around 70 staff. In recent years he was joined in the company by his son Stephen, a mechanical engineering graduate from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. His daughter Caroline, also a mechanical engineering graduate from Queen’s University Kingston and the University of Calgary, Canada, operated a branch office in Alberta.

In mid February Peter was returning from a job in Pennsylvania, USA, when he was involved in a tragic highway accident which resulted in his sudden death. Peter will be sadly missed by his wife Myra, Caroline, Stephen and their families, including four grandchildren. His many friends in Northern Ireland from the class of 1963 in the Engineering Faculty at Queen’s tender their sincere condolences to Myra and the extended family.

The hockey community in Northern Ireland will also share in their grief, as in the 1960s he was a top class defender for Cliftonville firsts – apart from one year at Queen's when he earned a Blue.

North America owes a great debt of gratitude to Peter Bowen who contributed so much to their society.



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