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Sam B. Williams

Dr. Sam B. Williams

1921-2009

Dr. Sam B. Williams was born in Seattle, Washington in 1921. He is noted for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of small turbine engines for corporate and military aircraft.

Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1942, and in 1982 he received an honorary doctorate, also from Purdue.
Dr. Williams joined the Chrysler Corporation's engineering division in 1942, where he played a key role in the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of the first Chrysler automotive gas turbine engine and the design of one of the first turboprop engines for the U.S. Navy.

Dr. Williams founded Williams Research Corporation in 1954 (to become Williams International Corporation in 1981) initially developing small marine and gas turbines. In the 1960s and early 1970s, miniature Williams jet engines powered military target and surveillance aircraft, and Williams automotive gas turbines powered Army Jeeps and experimental automobiles, which were contracted with Williams by some of the world's leading automotive companies.

Williams Research Corp. was selected by the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and the Navy in 1976 to develop engines from their cruise missiles. In 1985, Williams International developed the new 1900 lb. thrust FJ44 fanjet engine, which because of its size, weight, and low cost, made a new category of small, low operating cost business jets feasible.

Dr. Williams has been credited with setting the standards for small turbine engine manufacturing, holding 76 U.S. patents. He took an active part in the corporation's technical programs in addition to his management duties. Williams International has developed fanjet engines for business aircraft and trainers, various turbojet and turbo-fan engines for missiles and target aircraft, and turboshaft engines for vehicle, stationary, and aircraft auxiliary applications.

In 1978, Dr. Williams received the Collier Trophy for "developing the world's smallest fanjet engine." In 1988, he received the Wright Brothers Memorial trophy for his pioneering work in aircraft propulsion.
Dr. Williams was enshrined on November 7, 1992 for his pioneering work in the design and manufacturing of propulsion engines. He passed away June 22, 2009 in Indian Hills, California at age 88.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program