In celebration of International Literacy Day Sept. 8, an annual event that gives children and communities a chance to rediscover the joys of reading while raising awareness for those without access to education, Rensselaer highlighted a novel by Professor Emerita Deborah Kaminski ’73 titled Damian’s Workshop.
“I am a traveler, an explorer, and a dreamer,” said Kaminski, professor emerita of mechanical engineering at Rensselaer. Kaminski ’73 taught Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, and Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE) for more than 30 years. “My fiction takes you to exotic places that I love and treats you to new ideas to chew on.”
According to Kaminski, Damian’s Workshop is a science fiction story with a blend of technology, history, and adventure. The main character, Brooke Laforge, has only one more year to finish her doctorate, and seems on the fast track to success. Her hopes rest on the Memex, a medical device that stimulates the memory centers of the brain. Brooke is convinced it will cure Alzheimer’s disease, but so far, it has only been tested on mice.
When the University Review Board denies permission for human subject testing, Brooke, running out of time and money, decides to try the Memex on herself. She soon finds that her invention has the unexpected power to cast her into the minds of her ancestors.
While Damian’s Workshop is Kaminski’s first novel, Kaminski is the author of a popular textbook on thermal-fluid engineering together with Michael Jensen, a professor in MANE. She is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed articles in technical journals, an invited article in The New York Times, and a featured article in Science.
Kaminski received her bachelor’s in physics and master’s in chemical engineering from Rensselaer, and spent five years at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York. Her work focused on heat transfer in electrical machinery, including motors, transformers, batteries, and generators. Kaminski returned to Rensselaer for doctoral research on computational fluid dynamics in free convection. She received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and later joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1985. Her research focused on artificial intelligence and radiation heat transfer.
“Before my writing career, I was immersed in scientific research, working at General Electric, Rensselaer, and the National Science Foundation, so with that in mind, individuals should not be surprised that my science fiction is of the hard variety—striving for internal consistency and (more or less) realistic possibilities,” Kaminski said. “You can count on me for an adventure with a satisfying ending.”