Early LifeEngineer, inventor and writer David Nelson Crosthwait, Jr. was born on May 27, 1898, in Nashville, Tennessee. An African-American pioneer in the field of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC), Crosthwait attended Purdue University where he studied mechanical engineering. After graduating in 1913, he took a job with the C. A. Dunham Company (now known as Dunham-Bush, Inc).
Heating and Cooling InventionsDuring his time with the C. A. Dunham Company, Crosthwait held many positions, including director of research. While at Dunham, he conducted research in several areas, including heat transfer and steam transport. His work led to many innovations in HVAC devices and technology and he held more than 30 U.S. patents. Crosthwait designed HVAC systems; the heating system at Radio City Music Hall in New York City is perhaps the best-known example of his work.
Besides research, product development and HVAC system design, Crosthwait also advanced his field by writing articles and revising sections of several editions of American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers Guide. His accomplishments were recognized by many in his field. He won a medal from the National Technological Association in the 1930s and was made a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in 1971 - the first African-American to receive the honor.