Alumni Hall of Fame

William Pitt Mason
William Pitt Mason
Inducted September 2007

William Pitt Mason

Class of 1874
Teacher, Pure Water Advocate

A pioneer in sanitation chemistry, William Pitt Mason was an unusual combination of chemist, engineer, and medical expert. He spent his entire career at Rensselaer, as teacher, scholar, and practicing scientist. In addition to his undergraduate degree in civil engineering, he earned a medical degree from Albany Medical College and studied bacteriology at the Pasteur Institute.

Through his studies of water analysis and water supply, Mason became a major contributor to the world’s knowledge and understanding of the need for pure municipal water supplies. His publications extending over a period of 40 years moved U.S. cities toward pure water and better public health. At Rensselaer, Mason became the founder and first head of the modern departments of chemistry and chemical engineering.

A popular and admired member of the faculty, Mason offered special opportunities for the training of chemists in water analysis and sanitation chemistry. Among his career contributions, he served as president of the American Water Works Association.