William Selkirk Owen, Professor of Naval Architecture

Professor William Selkirk Owen, originally from Athens, Georgia, enrolled at the University of Glasgow in 1904 to study Naval Architecture.

His decision to come to Glasgow would have been influenced by the Webb Academy and Home for Shipbuilders, now Webb Institute, from where he graduated in 1903, and its founder, William H. Webb, who had also come to Glasgow to learn of the shipbuilding practices along the Clyde. Another influence in his decision to pursue a career in shipbuilding may have come from the US Navy’s modernization drive, which began in the 1880s making it the world’s largest Naval Force by the 1920s.

Owen was awarded several First-Class Certificates while at Glasgow, one of which for Natural Philosophy under Professor Andrew Gray in 1904. Owen graduated BSc in Naval Architecture in 1907, and returned to the US where he would eventually become Professor of Naval Architecture and Dean of Faculty at New York’s Webb Institute, a private college specializing in both Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, a position he held for 22 years.


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