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William L. Emmet

AKA William Le Roy Emmet

Born: 10-Jul-1859
Birthplace: Travers Island, NY
Died: 26-Sep-1941
Location of death: Erie, PA
Cause of death: Natural Causes
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Engineer, Inventor
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: All-electric warships

Military service: US Navy (1881-83)

American engineer and inventor William L. Emmet graduated from the Naval Academy and served two years at sea, but beyond his experience in the bowels of a ship he was essentially a self-taught mechanic. After leaving the Navy he worked as a laborer at the United States Illuminating Company, then was hired by Frank J. Sprague to work on the construction of street railways. Joining the Edison General Electric Company in 1891, Emmet was an early advocate of alternating current over Thomas Edison's preferred direct current. He oversaw the design of hydroelectric generators for the Niagara falls project, and collaborated with Charles G. Curtis on development of turbine engines. In 1915 he persuaded the US Navy to test GE's turbines in place of the then-standard steam engines, leading to GE's contract to construct several new "all-electric" warships. He held nearly 200 patents, and spent many years on development of mercury vapor turbines.

Emmet was a great-grandson of Thomas Addis Emmet, an Irish revolutionary exiled in the 19th century, who came to America and became Attorney General of New York. He was a cousin of noted attorney Richard S. Emmet, and his sister Rosina "Posie" Emmet was the mother of playwright Robert E. Sherwood.

Father: William Jenkins Emmet (sugar executive, b. 3-Aug-1826, d. 22-Dec-1905)
Mother: Julia Colt Pierson Emmet (b. 10-Jul-1829, m. 15-Feb-1854, d. 26-Sep-1908)
Brother: Robert Temple Emmet (b. 13-Dec-1854, d. 25-Oct-1936)
Sister: Rosina Hubley Emmet Sherwood ("Posie", b. 13-Dec-1854, d. 19-Jan-1948)
Sister: Julia Colt Emmet (b. 20-Jul-1856, m. childhood)
Brother: Devereux Emmet (b. 11-Dec-1861, d. 30-Dec-1934)
Brother: Richard Stockton Emmet (b. 27-Nov-1863, d. 29-Aug-1929)
Sister: Lydia Field Emmet (m. 23-Jan-1866, d. 16-Aug-1952)
Brother: Christopher Temple Emmet (b. 8-Jul-1868, d. 22-Jul-1957)
Brother: Thomas Addis Emmet (b. 6-Sep-1870, d. 10-Mar-1886)
Sister: Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn (b. 8-Oct-1873, d. 20-Feb-1961)

    University: US Naval Academy (1881)

    IEEE Edison Medal 1919
    ASME Medal 1930
    American Institute of Electrical Engineers
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    National Academy of Sciences
    General Electric 1891-1943

Author of books:
Alternating Current Wiring and Distribution (1898)
Autobiography of An Engineer (1940, autobiography)

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