Ernest George Coker

Prof Ernest George Coker FRS FRSE MIME MICE (18691946) was a British mathematician and engineer. He won the Howard N. Potts Medal for Physics in 1922, and the Rumford Medal for work on polarised light in 1936. He was an expert on stress analysis and Photoelasticity.[1] He contributed to Encyclopaedia Britannica and other works under the initials E.G.C.


He was born on 26 April 1869 in Wolverton in Buckinghamshire the son of George Coker, an engine-fitter, and his wife, Sarah Tompkins. His birthplace is often wrongly stated as Wolverhampton.

He was educated at a private school at Stony Stratford. In 1890 he won a Whitworth Scholarship allowing him to study at the Royal College of Science in London and then both Edinburgh University and Peterhouse, Cambridge where he graduated with a Mechanical Sciences Tripos in 1896.[2]

His early jobs included Assistant Examiner of Patents at H M Patent Office in London. In 1898 he won the post of Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at McGill University in Montreal. He returned to Britain in 1905 to take the role of Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics at Finsbury Technical College, then in 1914 got the chair in Civil and Mechanical Engineering at University College, London (now UCL).

He received honorary doctorates from three universities: Edinburgh, Sydney and Louvain.

In 1903 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1916 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.[3]

He retired in 1934 and died at The Gables, Wheatfield Road in Ayr on 9 April 1946.[4]


He married Alice Mary King (d.1941) in 1899.


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