Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

divider line


divider line

View in portable document format.



Leonardt Ferdinand Kreisle was born on October 22, 1922, in Austin’s Seton Infirmary. His parents were Antonie Marianne Leonardt Kreisle and Edwin Clinton Kreisle, a well-known Austin architect, and he was their only child. He was delivered by his uncle, Dr. Matthew Ferdinand Kreisle, Sr. His early childhood was spent in the family’s home at 103 East 16th Street, Austin. His father and his uncle, Matthew, had constructed this cottage on a lot adjacent to the home of his grandfather, Loui Henry Kreisle. His first out-of-town trip was a Christmas 1923 visit via the steam-powered train to his maternal grandparents, Anna and Emil Leonardt, in Cuero, Texas. In the spring of 1928, the family moved into a large stucco-and-stone Normandy-English style home at 5 Niles Road, Enfield, in Austin. That summer, with his parents, he took his first airplane trip, flying from Austin to Los Angeles in an American Airlines Ford tri-motor airplane. Leonardt attended Pease elementary school, the University Junior High School, and graduated from Austin High School in 1939 after completing the eleventh grade (normal for the time). He was elected to the National Honor Society and was class salutatorian.

In 1939, he entered The University of Texas School of Architecture, but as a result of his interest in structural design, he transferred to architectural engineering after two years. In September 1941, while maintaining a full course load, he began teaching engineering courses for military personnel. Later he served as an instructor in mechanical drafting, while going to school one-half time. He received the Bachelor of Architectural Engineering Degree in May 1944. While at UT, he was a member and an officer in the Sphynx Association, Tau Beta Pi, Tau Sigma Delta, Chi Epsilon, Phi Eta Sigma, Sons of Alec, Ramshorn Association, and the Freshman Fellowship Club.

In July 1944, Leonardt accepted a position in El Paso as an architectural engineer for Robert E. McKee, General Contractor. He did structural design and construction supervision on the Zia Project (now Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, New Mexico). In July 1945, Leonardt returned to The University of Texas as an instructor of mechanical engineering (ME) to teach in the mechanical design area. Over the years, he taught many of the courses in the ME curriculum: Thermodynamics, Heat Power Laboratory, Heat Transfer, Mechanisms, Dynamics of Machinery, Vibrations, Machine Shop, Time and Motion Study, and Machine Design.

In 1946, Leonardt was commissioned by the UT Board of Regents to redesign and color render the official seal of The University. A significant decision in the seal design involved selection of the official University colors, eventually being burnt orange and white, with strict specifications for the “Burnt Orange.” In 1949, he was promoted to assistant professor of mechanical engineering, while continuing toward his master’s degree, which was awarded in May 1951. The title of his thesis was “Bolt Elongations and Loads.”

In 1948, Leonardt was initiated into the Masons by University Lodge #1190, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons (AF&AM). Soon thereafter, he became a Scottish Rite Mason, a York Rite Mason, and a member of the Ben Hur Shrine. In October 1998, he received the 50-Year Membership award from the Grand Lodge of Texas.

In September 1953, he enrolled in the doctoral program at Cornell University, where he was also a visiting assistant professor, teaching machine design courses. He was one of the first UT engineering faculty to be encouraged to go elsewhere to pursue the Ph.D. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell in June 1955 with a dissertation topic, “Hydrodynamic Lubrication of Very Short Oil-Lubricated Journal Bearings.”

Upon graduation, Leonardt decided to return to his teaching activities at The University of Texas and was promoted to associate professor in 1956. His book, Design of Machine Members, co-authored with Alex Vallance and Venton Doughtie, was published in 1964. His promotion to professor of mechanical engineering came in 1969. He thereafter taught courses mainly in the “design” and “dynamics” areas: Dynamics, Dynamic Systems and Controls, Analytical Basis for Design, Reliability of Engineering Systems and Components, and the senior level Mechanical Engineering Design Projects course. In addition, for several years he taught the department’s instructional course for prospective teaching assistants and was active in the University Interscholastic League statewide slide-rule contest. In later years, he was instrumental in developing the DC analog computing and later the digital computing capabilities in the department. During his career, Leonardt was professionally active in both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), holding national and local offices and publishing technical papers in their journals. Among his major publications were those in the ASEE journal dealing with the development of an effective senior level design course and those in the ASME and other journals reporting research on lubrication and stress analysis. He supervised at least twenty-five M.S. degree candidates and four Ph.D. candidates.

For eleven years (1966-1977), Leonardt was the assistant dean of engineering for academic affairs at the University, and following that, he served one year as undergraduate advisor in mechanical engineering.

Dr. Kreisle is best remembered for the senior level course, ME 366K (Mechanical Engineering Design Projects), which is referred to as “K.” The design projects program has received plaudits from The American Society for Engineering Education and The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The student-endowed Leonardt F. Kreisle Machine Design Laboratory was established in his name. He served as the director of the Mechanical Engineering Design Projects Laboratory for a decade before retiring for health reasons from the University in January 1992. The following September, he was designated professor emeritus.

Dr. Kreisle, among many other things, was an inveterate collector of antiques, particularly of “technology,” but also of other items. At his residence in West Austin were several buildings filled with a broad menagerie that included several Packard automobiles (including a 1951 Patrician), Model A and Model T Fords, a set of “Icey Balls” (a 19th century absorption freezing device), three hydrogen sulfide refrigerators, a half dozen “Heatrola” furnaces, several phonographs going back to the earliest Edisons and Victrolas, and scores of radios going back to the early 1920s. Beyond technical antiques, he had collections of Hummel porcelain, butterflies, arrowheads, barbwire, and an almost complete set of National Geographic magazines, including the first edition. Also in his collection were many pieces of furniture, some handmade by his father, a master craftsman, and others from an aunt who had obtained them from the estate of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Certainly, this eclectic collection illustrates the breadth of Kreisle’s interests.

Leonardt received numerous awards and other recognitions for his teaching, advising, and research, including the following:
  • Elected Outstanding National Student Member of Tau Beta Pi (1948).
  • Pi Tau Sigma “Teaching Excellence Award,” while at Cornell University.
  • American Society of Lubrication Engineers “Special Award for Significant Contributions to Understanding the Fundamentals of Lubrication” (1958).
  • General Dynamics Corporation “Teaching Excellence Award” (1964).
  • University of Texas Student’s Society “Teaching Excellence Award” (1965).
  • Four-time recipient of The University of Texas at Austin Student Engineering Council “Mechanical Engineering Teaching Excellence Award.”
  • Two-time recipient of The University of Texas at Austin Student Engineering Council “Distinguished Advisor Award.”
  • “Order of Alec,” for Contributions as Teacher, Friend and Counselor to Students for over Thirty-five Years (1984).
  • “Leonardt F. Kreisle Senior Design Projects Laboratory,” endowed (1986).
  • One of twenty recipients of the first University-wide “Friar Society Commendation for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” (1986).
  • Commendation from the American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for “directing the best overall capstone engineering design course currently in American universities.”
  • The University of Texas at Austin “Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teaching Award” (1988).
  • Fred Merryfeld “Design Award for Excellence in Teaching Engineering Design,” given by ASEE (1989).
  • The University of Texas at Austin Department of Mechanical Engineering “Outstanding Alumnus Award – for Recognition of his Outstanding Achievements in Engineering Education and Research in the Field of Mechanical Engineering” (1996).
  • “Leonardt F. Kriesle Permanent Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin,” established through donations from ME Alums to award students for creativity and innovation (1998).

In giving an award to Leonardt Kreisle in 1956, dean of engineering, John McKetta noted, “To Leonardt … who sets the pace by being the best advisor and friend our students ever had.” In summary, Leonardt Kreisle is memorable for his long and dedicated service to the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the College of Engineering, The University, and to those thousands of students who took classes from him and were counseled by him during his almost fifty years of service to The University of Texas at Austin. He will be remembered for many things: a teller of stories, a dedicated teacher, and a friend to students.

Whenever there was a break in the everyday work schedule, Leonardt’s mastery of creative stories provided entertainment for students and faculty alike. Among his most interesting were these three:

On the family air trip in 1928 (Leonardt was six at the time), the family motored to Yosemite National Park for camping and sightseeing. It was in this scenic setting that he describes meeting and passing the time with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Luther Burbank, and Ansel Adams.

Leonardt also recounted the story about celebrating after completing his Ph.D. at Cornell. Apparently, Albert Einstein was in the pub where he and his friends were celebrating, and according to the story, Dr. Einstein joined in the drinking and dancing festivities.

As a result of Leonardt’s extensive collection of Packards, he described meeting film star Raquel Welch in Los Angeles. Ms. Welch apparently had a great fondness for Packard cars and found that he could provide her with a missing hood ornament for her Packard, which Leonardt presumably presented to her at dinner.

Leonardt Ferdinand Kreisle, a fourth generation member of the Kreisle family, which has been in Austin since the 1870s, passed away June 14, 2004. He is survived by his adopted son Dr. David K. Arctur of Austin, as well as numerous relatives in Texas (Austin, Leander, and Victoria), Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, and California. Leonardt is interred in the Kreisle plot at the Oakwood Cemetery Annex in Austin.


Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin


Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Gary C. Vliet (chair), J. Parker Lamb, and Grady Rylander.