We regret to announce the death of retired senior lecturer Mike Phillips, who passed away on 20 February 2016. Mr Phillips had been ill for some time and was in hospital at the time of his death.
Born in October 1932, Mike graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Physical & Theoretical Metallurgy and went into the Royal Navy as an Instructor Lieutenant.
He then moved into industry working for British Aluminium before joining the Metallurgy section in the School of Engineering at the Bristol College of Science and Technology at Ashley Down on 1 January 1961.
Under the leadership of Phil Thornton and two other full time staff, Alan Harding and Harry Reiter, the course in Engineering Metallurgy was developed and gained recognition two years later. With the recruitment of a Chemist and Ceramicists and others the Department became independent of the School of Engineering and became the School of Materials Science.
Apart from his sabbatical year at CERN Mike's research interest lay mainly in the field of Acoustic Emission of glass and carbon composites and he published widely in this field.
Mike is remembered with great affection and respect by current and former staff across the Faculty as a mild mannered person with a love of music and theatre. It is difficult to reconcile this with the keen water polo player (a most aggressive sport) of his youth. He will be sorely missed by his many friends especially those who remember his perfect rendition of 'Albert and the Lion'.
David Packham recalls: "I knew Mike well since 1970 when I came to work as a colleague, and always liked and admired him. He was a man of real distinction who could always be relied on, and a wise friend. He was a meticulous teacher with a deep care for his students."
Bryan Harris (Head of the School of Materials Science for many years from the mid-1970s ) said: "When a new fibre composites research group started up in 1976, Mike collaborated with myself, Felicity Guild and Jay Ackerman in an SERC-funded study of the use of acoustic emission analysis for non-destructive testing of glass- and carbon-fibre structures. He later branched out on his own in a further study of the long-term behaviour of glass-fibre pressure vessels with funding from the then CEGB."
Professor Chris Bowen recalls Mike’s dedication to ensuring tutees understood the fundamental principles of materials science with great appreciation for the effort, dedication and energy he gave to his subject.
Dr Tim Mays describes Mike as being at the heart of the Materials Science ‘family’ in the 1980s, someone who set the highest standards in everything that he did.
Professor Richard Trask remembers his great knowledge, immense patience and caring nature towards students.
All of them recall Mike as a role model who helped develop them into the successful academics they have become.
Mike retired in 1998 but then returned to the University to cover a vacancy on a part-time basis until 2000.
Our condolences and sympathy are with Mike’s wife Jean and three children, Martyn, Simon and Sarah at this sad time.