William F. Durand was a United States naval officer and pioneer mechanical engineer. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1877 until 1887. Commissioned as Assistant Engineer, he served on the USS Tennessee, contributing significantly to the development of aircraft propellers, and the theory and operation of propeller hydraulics.
In 1887, Durand accepted a position at Michigan State creating the Department of Mechanical Engineering. And later he taught mechanical engineering at Cornelland Stanford. He also helped rebuild Stanford after the 1906 earthquake.
Among the nation’s most respected academics of his time, Durand was a founding member, the first chairman, and served for decades on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, forerunner of the present day NASA. After his 1924 retirement from Stanfordhe oversaw the a comprehensive series of monographs on aerodynamics that was widely used as a resource in scientific circles, and wrote three of the papers himself.