History of Electric Induction Heating

Table of Contents

This Chapter

By James Farol Metcalf

Northrup established the business of induction melting and Rowan made money from his early efforts.

The similarities between the fictional Northrup and Rowan are amazing.


The village of Ridgewood, New Jersey, lay barely a dozen miles from Manhattan, but it was another world completely. For the affluent executives and professionals who commuted to work in the city, Ridgewood was a haven from the steel and-concrete canyons, the noisy hustle and bustle of New York.

I was born on December 4, 1923, the third of four children and the first son of Dr. Henry M. Rowan, Sr., and Margaret Frances Boyd Rowan. My father had come from a poor family in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley-"dirt farmers," my grandmother Boyd called her in-laws--to become one of the most prominent physicians in the state.

Northrup's fictional character. He was born in 1866.

It was made clear to me when I reached the age of critical understanding that I arrived in this world in the year 1920 on the anniversary of George Washington's Birthday. Though present at the time, I took no notice of the event.

A group of wealthy men united in the common cause of saving for posterity the finest upland game birds the world has known established in northern New Jersey an experimental game farm.-------The place was named America Game Research Farm.

Northrup's fictional character was near death in the year 1999 but his wife Marie lived on.



The years passed without the coming into my life of any great sorrow, nor were there surprising happenings in Jean's career or mine. As with thousands of others prominent in our broad land, the story of the little that the public observed and the press occasionally mentioned regarding us would have but trifling interest to readers of my memoirs. My inner self, my reflections of life's significance, may also be passed over because my numerous scientific papers, my occasional public addresses, my routine engineering work, much of my social life, and my many talks at the S.A.S.--best indicators of the worth of my thinking--are already on record.

Then came a great grief: on the occasion of the annual opening of the S.A.S., September 20, 1989, Jean Bizet, my brother-in-law; my devoted, my dearest, my most intimate friend and companion; the equal in all my acclaimed achievements, died suddenly while he was giving a lecture. Life for Marie and me then turned drab, and has never been quite the same since. In hope of assuaging our sorrow, Marie and I, without companions, journeyed in Africa, where we remained for three months. We moved leisurely from one section to another observing its unmixable population, and reflecting profoundly on the present and future of this great area of our earth where natural resources have hardly been scratched. For many years the place has no longer been "Darkest Africa" and I am thinking that perhaps it is here that the center of gravity of: a future civilization will be found.

Upon our return home (we still lived near the game farm, which had been much expanded) we enlarged our house. Marie had very definite ideas on how our new home should be designed. In fact, she assured me that we did not need an architect because she knew exactly what she wanted and just how everything should be arranged. No one builds now; most houses of small and moderate proportions are prefabricated by several large companies, who set them up ready for occupancy. They cater to a large variety of tastes, so that the purchaser is free to express his or her fancy in most varied ways. The housekeeper may use her ideas of beauty without having any special knowledge of materials or constructional features. It was a house of this character which Marie designed. When it was finished I was never more amazed at a woman's capacity for creation and non-neglect of the smallest details to secure artistic effects, convenience, and homelike comforts.

We had a large house erected, because my widowed daughter, with my two grandchildren, wished to live with Marie and me. It proved good for us to have youth, jollity, and fun in our home. Indeed, looking back, I can truly assert that no technical triumphs in my life, no I honors I have received, no activities of mine among men, have yielded me as much solid joy as has my family life.

To keep my brain pleasantly occupied, and as a talisman against morbid thoughts, I have devoted what probably will be the last decade of my life to writing books on various subjects in which I feel a special interest.

My last book was completed in manuscript just prior to beginning this narrative; but now it is my intention to have it published after these, my memoirs, shall have appeared. The title chosen for this other book is: How America has changed in Fifty Years. In this register of my observations and thoughts I have pictured with my pen a progress curve which--like true representations with curves of the happenings in nature and in life --is neither level nor straight slanting down, nor straight slanting up. Rather, at times it is rising, and then invariably goes down only to rise again. I believe, however that its general drift through much time is ever upward, and that Tennyson's written lines are true:

"I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widen'd with the process of the suns."

The curves I have pen-described I would have express the rise and fall, and again the upward trend, of social ideas, man's adjustment to man in the spirit of love, falling to the canker of hate only to rise once more to justice observed. I have tried to trace the pendulum swings in religious thought, in literature, in the speculations of science, in the rise and fall of money power, in the drift toward nationalism, followed again by a trend toward world federation.

I have endeavored to draw a picture of the mad man-made changes in men's environment, with their inexorable reactions upon the thinking of mankind and his modes of living. I may add that in my writing I have tried to tell what I honestly believe gives the greatest happiness in living, and to tell how I think one must proceed to extract the most from his conscious existence.

I had planned to publish this other book as a companion publication to the present narrative of my personal life, but now I see that I cannot do this: even as I write these sentences my once powerful constitution is fast yielding to the foe pneumonia--or should it not be called the old man's friend, because it removes him so quickly and so gently into that oblivion where all which is living and thinking must finally go?

From birth I have been a fortunate human being indeed, and I feel that I have gotten from life about the best it has to give. I am also solaced to reflect that I have secured my own happiness without filching happiness from other lives. Consoled with this thought and realizing that I have had my time, I am ready to die as I have tried to live, an owner of the one undisputed virtue, courage.

With these parting words I now go to a sick-bed. Marie in all likelihood will live on a little time longer and hold memories of our supremely happy union and joyous living. If I do not rise again - and my physician tells me I probably shall not--Marie will fulfill her promise and arrange that this narrative of my eighty years of life, and my other book completed in manuscript, are not left unpublished.

Finally, it is my deepest conviction that all of me which will survive that is worthy is the little of influence I shall leave behind to advance our human race.

Life, I adore you, but very soon I must say: Forever farewell!


A New Purpose

I have always had a passion for privacy and I had dreaded the idea of scrutiny by the media. But, at the same time, there was something to be learned from it. One of the things I learned was that most reporters are more interested in feelings than facts. "How does it feel to give away $100 million?" they all asked, perhaps hoping for a glib answer. But I couldn't give them one.

The truth is, endowing Rowan College had been a terrifying decision for me to make. It was not merely an awesome commitment, it meant a tremendous personal risk. I wondered, how many philanthropists change their minds? How many harbor second thoughts, and think to themselves, "I wish I had that money back." I wondered, too, what it would be like to spend the next 10 years of my life living up to this new promise. To wake in the morning, wondering how much I would be able to earn that day towards paying off that $100 million. It was entirely conceivable that my pledge would become a burden, one I would prove incapable of bearing.

On the next page is a photograph of Rowan when he is about seventy.

But as I've learned, it's been nothing like that. Rather than a sense of loss, my gift to the college has been a tremendous personal gain. And instead of it becoming a burden, my pledge has given new purpose to my life and revitalized my work. I've often thought as I've watched the streams of fresh molten metal pouring from my furnaces that they were casting a better life for the enormous segment of the emerging population that had not yet enjoyed the benefits of industrialization. Now I can envision a procession of bright, energetic young men and women moving out to create things of enduring value, to create and improve the world they live in.

It's exciting to drive through the college, where a new library is rising next to the old one, and see the sign of expansion and improvement everywhere. The students, too, seem to feel that they're part of something unique, and a new spirit has settled in.

So, too has the man who will become Dean of the School of Engineering, Dr. James U. Tracey, formerly the Dean of the School of Engineering at University of Texas, San Antonio, who is currently occupied with recruiting faculty for the new school.

There is intense interest and cooperation from business and educators throughout the country toward establishing the Engineering School. A National Advisory Board for the development of the School of Engineering has been established, whose members include such renowned business leaders as Alfred C. Koeppe, President of New Jersey Bell, and Richard Klein, President and CEO of Sybron Chemicals, and key Figures in education such as Professor Bruno Boley of Columbia University, and, perhaps even more important in my situation, Joel Moses, Dean of the School of Engineering at MIT. Even John Mortimer, president of our entire furnace melting group, asked if he might serve on this renowned board, and I was delighted.

I had to admire MIT's attitude They might have been miffed that one of their alumni endowed a small public school in New Jersey rather than his alma mater, but, instead, they offered their assistance almost from the first announcement and contributed further by having Joel Moses join the Advisory Board. It's an impressive Board, all bringing enthusiasm for the opportunity and responsibility they've undertaken to assure success, with the first engineers graduating from the new school before the end of the century.

If I have one wish for the college, it is that the students who benefit from the success we've achieved at Inductotherm go forth to build on our achievements. To do this takes more than engineering skills; it takes hard work, commitment, and the willingness to take risks. And sometimes, a little luck.

My greatest wish is that this entity we call "Inductotherm" will continue to thrive, with its key divisions continuing to be world leaders in the products they've developed and in the markets that they've tackled. It remains a monument to my life's work, but more important still are the challenges and pleasures it can bring to the future generations of young people who choose to make it theirs.

I know I was lucky. I had the great fortune to have been raised by the remarkable woman who was my mother and who instilled in me the joy of doing a thing well. I was blessed with two courageous sons, whom I still miss. No, I do more than miss them; as the years have passed, I find myself reflecting more and more on how things would have turned out if David and Jimmy had not been stolen from us so soon. What careers might they have pursued? Would they have chosen to work with me, side-by-side? What might we have accomplished, together? I'll never have an answer, I know.

But I have learned what it's like to have both a daughter and son-in-law in whom I take great pride, and who will some day take over the leadership of my companies, as a team.

I've also had the friendship, support, and encouragement from men like Jess Cartlidge, Dick Walker, Tom Pippitt, Bob Hotchkin, Roy Ruble, Paul Cervellero, and John Mortimer, plus a dozen other colleagues and friends who have shared the exasperation, the frustrations, the anxiety--and the thrills of building a great company.

And through it all, I've had the understanding and support of my wife, Betty. And even after I've met my commitments to Rowan College, I'm sure Betty will understand if I look around for some new challenge to tackle. As we both learned a long time ago, no matter what more we might achieve, I'll never quench that fire within.

Rowan was very much alive in 2006 but his Betty passed away in the late 1997.