David Crosthwait held numerous patents relating to heat transfer, ventilation, and air conditioning, the areas in which he was considered an expert.
Born in Nashville May 27, 1898, David Crosthwait grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. Shortly after the Civil and in the midst of the Jim Crow era, it was relatively rare for an African American man to achieve an esteemed reputation in the sciences, yet that is exactly what he did.
David Crosthwait earned a Bachelors degree from Purdue University in 1913 and a Masters Degree in engineering in 1920. A few years after he finished his degrees, he became Research Engineer, Director of Research Laboratories for C.A. Dunham Company, now Marshall Engineered Products Co., in Marshalltown, Iowa, where he worked from 1925 to 1930.
David Crosthwait's expertise was on air ventilation, central air conditioning, and heat transfer systems. He created many different heating systems, refrigeration methods, temperature regulating devices, and vacuum pumps. For these inventions he holds thirty nine United States patents as well as eighty international patents. In the 1920s and 1930s Crosthwait invented a vacuum pump, a boiler and a thermostat control, all for more effective heating systems for larger buildings. Some of his greatest accomplishments were for creating the heating systems for the Rockefeller Center and New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
David Crosthwait matched his scientific knowledge with his writing skils, and later wrote an instruction manual and guides for heating and cooling with water and guides, standards, and codes that dealt with heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems.
Crosthwait served as technical advisor of Dunham-Bush from 1930 to 1971. After retiring from industry in 1971, Mr. Crosthwait taught a course on steam heating theory and control systems at Purdue University during the 1970s.
For his multiple achievements in his field David Crosthwait was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Purdue in 1975, he was named Fellow of the, AAAS, and he served as a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, the American Chemical Society, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.