Ali B. Cambel was born in Merano, Italy, in 1923 of Turkish parents who were in the diplomatic corps. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen, a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and is a widower.
Mr. Cambel received his early education through home tutoring. He gained admission to Robert Academy, an American prep school and then to Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey where he received his first degree with honors in the humanities and sciences at age nineteen. He pursued graduate work in chemical engineering at the University of Istanbul, naval architecture at M.I.T., and mechanical engineering at CalTech. He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics from the University of Iowa. He is also a licensed professional engineer.
Mr. Cambel’s career followed different paths. He entered the academic field as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa. He was then invited to join the faculty of Northwestern University where he became the Walter P. Murphy Distinguished Professor and chairman of his department. In 1963 he was asked to join the Kennedy/Johnson Administration as Staff Director of the Presidents Intergovernmental Energy Study. In 1966 Northwestern University granted him a leave of absence and became Vice President for Research of the Institute for Defense Analyses. This organization is a think tank operated by a consortium of universities for the Department of Defense. He returned to academia as Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Wayne State University where he subsequently became Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. He was forced to leave this post during the campus revolutions of the 1960’s and 1970’s. He joined the General Research Corporation as Vice President. He was then asked to return to government service as Deputy Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation. Presently he is Professor Emeritus of Applied Sciences at George Washington University.
Mr. Cambel has received a number of awards for his contributions to research, for his excellence as a teacher, and for his competence as an administrator.
He is the author or co-author of six technical books and over one hundred and fifty academic papers.
Ali Cambel was married to the late Marion Cambel, an award winning landscape designer, for fifty-one years. The couple had four children together, one of whom passed away. Three children, five grand children, and two great grandchildren survive. Mr. Cambel lives in McLean, Virginia.