KERNOT, William Charles (1845-1909)

KERNOT, William Charles (1845-1909)
son of Charles Kernot, chemist, formerly member of the legislative assembly for Geelong, was born at Rochford, Essex, England, on 16 June 1845. He was educated at the National Grammar School, Geelong, and matriculated at the university of Melbourne in 1861. He qualified for the degree of M.A. in 1864 and entered the Victorian mining department in 1865. He also qualified as a civil engineer in 1866, in 1867 joined the water-supply department, and in 1868 was appointed a lecturer in civil engineering at the university of Melbourne. He left the water-supply department in 1875, and during the next three years acted as consulting engineer to Louis Brennan (q.v.) in connexion with his torpedo. In 1882 he became chairman of directors of the first company to introduce electric lighting to Melbourne, and from 1 January 1883 was the first professor of engineering at the university of Melbourne. When he started there was little in the way of either buildings or equipment, but during the following 26 years he worked up a fine engineering school, and was an inspiring teacher and friend to the many students who qualified for engineering degrees during this period. In 1887 he gave £2000 to the university to found scholarships in natural philosophy and chemistry, and in 1893 gave £1000 for the fittings for the metallurgical laboratory. Kernot also assisted Francis Ormond (q.v.) in the organization of the workingmen's college, and was president of this institution from 1889 to 1899. He was for several years president of the Royal Society of Victoria and of the Victorian Society of Engineers. He died at Melbourne on 14 March 1909. He never married.
Kernot wrote many papers for technical journals. Of his writings published in book or pamphlet form the most important was On Some Common Errors in Iron Bridge Design, which appeared in 1898. An enlarged second edition was published in 1906. A younger brother, Wilfred Noyce Kernot, born in 1868, was for many years a lecturer at the university of Melbourne, and from 1932 to 1936 was professor of engineering.
Cyclopaedia of Victoria, 1903; The Argus, 15 March 1909; The Age, 15 March 1909; The Melbourne University Calendar, 1942.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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