I am a research man.
Born in Germany, Kirsten graduated from the UW in 1909 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He was immediately hired by an industrial firm and by 1913, was supervising construction of the underground electrical service at MIT. Recruited back to UW, he agreed in 1920 to teach the entire curriculum of the new Department of Aeronautics: aerodynamics, airplane design, and propulsion.
On December 1, 1921, Kirsten filed the first patent awarded to a member of the UW faculty. He and William Boeing went into business together as the Kirsten-Boeing Engineering Company to develop Kirsten’s invention – the cycloidal propeller, first for aircraft and then for boats. He obtained a $290,000 grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to build the UW aeronautical engineering laboratory in 1926, and led the campaign to finance a state-of-the-art wind tunnel in 1936.