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Prof. S. TIMOSHENKO :- Father of Engineering Mechanics

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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 94

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 7:14 am    Post subject: Prof. S. TIMOSHENKO :- Father of Engineering Mechanics Reply with quote

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Timoshenko: Father of Engineering Mechanics
The legend of Timoshenko has few parallels in the annals of publishing
technical books. For reading and understanding engineering mechanics the
books of Timoshenko permeate a Shakespearean aura of authenticity and
authority somewhat like Chandrasekhar's books on astrophysics.
Timoshenko's books have been printed, sold, translated and reprinted in
millions across the world ever since 1908 with the publication of his
first book on strength of materials in Russian. His books have been
translated into many major and minor languages including Arabic, Bengali,
Fanti, French, Ga, Malay, Swahili, Urdu.... The list goes on and on as the
Timoshenko legend grows bigger and bigger all the time....
The reputation of Timoshenko's books is built on the solid foundation of
solving practical problems with artistic boldness and elegant mathematics.
There is no place for hollow claims or mathematical sophistry in his
books. He wielded such powerful influence on American engineering
education and design practice that they call him "the Father of
engineering mechanics". This is indeed a remarkable tribute considering
that Timoshenko arrived in the US in 1922 at the age of 44! Timoshenko was
indeed a giant of a teacher guiding 29 PhDs in the years 1927-37 at the
University of Michigan and 9 more at Stanford during 1938-1947.
Before beginning his academic career in the US, Timoshenko was a technical
consultant at the Westinghouse Corporation for five years. At
Westinghouse, he organized the Applied Mechanics Division of the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This has always been one of the
largest and most active ASME sections, which publishes the famous Journal
of Applied Mechanics. He also wrote two books: Applied Elasticity and
Vibration Problems in Engineering while employed there.
Before emigrating to America, Timoshenko had already become an
accomplished teacher and engineer in Russia and Europe. He had first-hand
experience of life in Russia before and during the Communist Revolution.
He studied in St. Petersburg during 1896-1901. During this period his
fascination for bridges, harbours, cathedrals and ships spurred his summer
trips to Western Europe twice, and, Germany, particularly, stimulated his
mind greatly. Later, Timoshenko became an instructor at St. Petersburg
Polytechnic Institute. While touring Europe many times Timoshenko was
greatly inspired and influenced by Foppl and his student Prandtl in
In 1906 Timoshenko became the chair of Strength of Materials at the
Polytechnic Institute in Kiev and rose fast to become the dean of
Structural Engineering in 1909. Political conflict led to his dismissal
from Kiev in 1911 and this perhaps drove him to leave Russia. Before he
eventually reached America, Timoshenko worked in Yugoslavia founding the
School of Engineering in Zagreb. Despite numerous torrid events and
experiences that he endured during 1912-1922, Timoshenko contributed
steadily to engineering mechanics. He also continued his habitual visits
to Europe and interacted with Love, Southwell, Taylor, von Karman and
others besides his German mentors: Foppl and Prandtl. It is indeed
remarkable that although Prandtl, Taylor and von Karman began with solids
and structures and switched over to fluid mechanics and aeronautics,
Timoshenko never ventured outside his favourite field of structural
His last book As I Remember written in 1963 when he was 85 is a moving
account of his bitter-sweet Russian, European and American life. That his
last book was first written in Russian underlines the deep
feeling he had for Russia throughout his life. (This was later translated
into English in 1967). The legion of students and colleagues that
Timoshenko advised and assisted includes names like Jacobsen, Soderberg,
Hetenyi, Frocht, Goodier, Lee, Marin, Woinowosky-Kreiger, Nadai,
Westergaard and many others. These people became the principal architects
in building up the reputation of higher education in American universities
in the latter half of the twentieth century.
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of Timoshenko joining the noble
profession of teaching and also of his marriage in August 1902 to
Alexandra. In his autobiography, Timoshenko remembers how his teachers
helped him and how he managed with just a hundred roubles salary taking
care of himself, his wife attending medical school, and his two brothers
all under the same roof!
This year also marks the two hundredth anniversary of Young joining the
Royal Institution as a professor and conducting the famous experiments to
measure the Youngs, modulus of materials in 1802. Thomas Young initiated
tension and torsion tests on circular shafts, and raised a brilliant issue
pertaining to the nonlinear dependence of the twisting moment on the angle
of twist under end constraints. As it turned out some hundred years later,
at the suggestion of Prandtl, Timoshenko took up the torsion problem for
his dissertation. He formulated the torsion bending problem of
non-circular beams with fixed ends with the help of a differential
equation. This equation adorns the postage stamp issued in Ukraine in 1998
to commemorate Timoshenko.
Timoshenko was a champion at bringing universities and industries together
without ever com-promising on the quality of education. This special
blending of science and technology produced spectacular results at many
American schools, but more conspicuously at Stanford and MIT where
Timoshenko and his students were directly associated. Timoshenko's demise
in 1972 signalled the end of a romantic era of teaching and writing books
to promote engineering science education. The new era of computer
simulation based education dominating modern universities has removed the
need for qualified teachers and well equipped laboratories. Internet
education has further reduced the investment on facilities while expanding
the marketplace internationally. This new form of marketing education
globally has brought in more administrators and advertising agents in the
place of teachers. While it is true that the marketplace decides the short
term outcome of a specific education, market de-mands are highly
unpredictable. Only those who possess genuine education can hope to turn
market fluctuations to their advantage. Recently, Nobel laureate Stiglitz
debated such issues in his book Globalization and its Discontents (W W
Norton 2002). State universities and government schools appear to be the
only hope for teaching and learning the fundamentals of engineering
science through the reading of great books like those authored by
For eons to come, the monuments erected by Timoshenko in the form of his
books will continue providing great inspiration and confidence to
students, teachers, scientists and designers pursuing structural
engineering design and analysis.

References :
1) http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/Oct2002/Oct2002ArticleInABox.htm
2) http://smitu.cef.spbstu.ru/timoshenko_en.htm
3) http://ece.clemson.edu/crb/misc/scientists/timoshenko.htm


Stephen Prokofyevich TIMOSHENKO

Outsanding mechanical scientist of the XXth century Stephen Prokofyevich
Timoshenko's work in St.Petersburg Polytechnical Institute was often
interrupted by different missions and trips abroad. He combined his work
in St.Petersburg Polytechnical Institute with work in other institutes and
didn't have here any administrative posts. Nevertheless, his first
scientific article "On the resonanse phenomenon in shafts" (1905) was
published in "St.Petersburg Polytechnical Institute transactions", and
later the scientist wrote, that he had never seen such high level of
students training in any other engineering schools of Russia, Europe and
America, he had visirted or worked in, as in St.Petersburg Polytechnical
Institute, during the first years of its work.
Stephen Prokofyevich Timoshenko was born in 1878 in settl. Shpotovka of
Chernigov region (Ukraine) in the famaly of land surveyer. In 1896 he
graduated from school in Romny and in 1901 from St.Petersburg Railway
Engineering Institute. After graduation he was on military service in a
field-engineer company for one year. Since 1903 S.P.Timoshenko worked in
St.Petersburg Polytechnical Institute as senior laboratory assistant in
applied mechanics and teached students statics of structures. In 1904
S.P.Timoshenko travelled to Europe to get familiar with German technical
school achievements and educational methods in European universities and
engineering schools.
Lord Ralay's books, particulary "The Theory of Sound", influenced greatly
on S.P.Timoshenko's activities. He became interested in complex structures
eigen frequences computation and developed simple approximate methods for
this problem solution. After Quebec Bridge crash in Canada S.P.Timoshenko
started working in the field of complex beams and frames stability
analysis and also developed simple methods of solving such kinds of
Since 1907 S.P.Timoshenko on V.L.Kirpichov's <kirpichov_en.htm>
recommendation was invited to Kiev Polytechnical Institute, where he
defended a thesis, and since 1908 became a professor in materials
strength, since 1909 -a dean of civil-engineering faculty. In 1907-1908
S.P.Timoshenko developed and read the course of materials strength, which
later was published and became a classical book on this discipline, as
well as his other book on the theory of elasticity.
In 1911 after students' disturbances S.P.Timoshenko was dismissed from
Kiev Polytechnical Institute. He returned to St.Petersburg and
simultaniously hold two professor chairs - in Electrotechnical and Railway
Institutes, working also in Polytechnical Institute as an applied and
theoretical mechanics, theory of elasticity and structural mechanics
teacher. In 1912 S.P.Timoshenko was on mission in Great Britain. In 1915
S.P.Timoshenko was elected a professor in St.Petersburg Polytechnical
In 1917 S.P.Timoshenko was sent on mission to Kiev, where he participated
in Ukrainian Academy of Sciences organizing and in 1918 became one of its
first academicians. In 1920 S.P.Timoshenko left the Soviet Ukraine for
Yugoaslavia, where he took up a chair of materials strength in Zagreb
Polytechnical Institute. In 1922 S.P.Timoshenko moves to the USA, where he
worked as an engineer in "Westinghaus" company, but later became a
professor in the University of Michigan.
Stephen Prokofyevich Timoshenko's lectures on applied mechanics in the
University of Michigan attracted a great number of students and young
scientisis and teachers. Such stars of science from Europe as Prandtl and
Westergard went to the USA to meet with S.P.Timoshenko. At that time
S.P.Timoshenko has published number of books on materials strength, theory
of elasticity and theory of stability.
Since 1936 S.P.Timoshenko worked in Stanford University, where his books
on technical mechanics, theory of plates and shells, dynamics were
published. A great popularity was gained by his book on the history of
materials strength, which he traced from Galliley and Leonardo-da-Vinchi
to the latest developments.
Since 1964 S.P.Timoshenko lived in Germany, where he died in 1972.


Stephen Prokofyevich Timoshenko was known as a teacher, author of numerous
publications and books, researcher and scientific consultant.
S.P.Timoshenko is considered to be the founder of the technical mechanics
scientific school in the USA.
S.P.Timoshenko has developed the theory of beams and plates bending with
taking in account shear strains (in modern structural mechanics terms
"Timoshenko plate", "Timoshenko element" are widely used), published
numerous works on torsion, thrust and pivot vibration, solved the problem
about stresses concentration near holes (Timoshenko problem).
S.P.Timoshenko was elected a member of the USA National Academy of
Sciences, Royal Scientific Soceity of Great Britain, member of the USSR
Academy of Sciences (since 1918 -corresponding member, since 1968 -
foreign member), received honor doctoral degrees in many universities. His
name is given to the laboratory in Stanford University and American
Soceity of Mechanical Engineers medal.

Stephen Timoshenko  STEPHEN P. TIMOSHENKO was born in 1878 in Russia. His
father Timofeyevich was a surveyor and his mother was a voracious reader.
During his early childhood, Timoshenko enjoyed playing in piles of sand
near building construction sites - he built fortresses, castles and
especially rail roads. When he was five years old his schooling started.
Timoshenko never liked his class room studies and at home he worked with
pleasure. He felt sitting five hours every day in a class room is a waste
of time. He always pushed himself forward or to display his knowledge to
the teacher. Timoshenko studied mathematics with pleasure and solved
various problems for amusement and not because they were assigned. When he
was promoted to grade four, Timoshenko learnt how to operate a harvesting
machine. At the age of 14 he learnt to sketch and draw, and participated
in planning and building a house. At the age of 18 he joined an institute
at the Ministry of Ways of Communication in St.Petersburg. During the
summers of 1899 and 1900 Timoshenko spent practicing on construction of
Volchansk- Kupyansk rail road so that he could learn all the important
types of construction. His student years coincided with the start of
political quickening in Russia manifested primarily in student
disturbances. In the summer of 1900, the international exposition opened
in Paris and he went as a student who knew foreign language to serve at
the ways of communications exhibit. With 200 roubles and a free ticket
Timoshenko set out from Petersburg for Paris. This was his first trip
abroad. Upon graduation from the institute, Timoshenko was faced with a
year of compulsory military service at the time when most of the youths
opposed military service. Military service not only afforded him an
opportunity to become better acquainted with low class people but
gymnastics and living in a tent in summer improved his physical health.
After military service Timoshenko got married to Aledxandra Archangleskya
in 1902 who was a medical student. At that time he worked at the mechanics
laboratory with a salary of 100 roubles a month. He became well acquainted
with testing machines and soon saw that apart from learning the techniques
of mechanical testing of building materials he could accomplish nothing at
the laboratory. Timoshenko felt that for a scientific work a more thorough
grounding in mathematics and mechanics was needed and he tried to use
every opportunity available at the institute to expand his education. Then
he joined The Petersburg Polytechnic in 1903. In 1904 he travelled to
Europe with a specific purpose of becoming better acquainted with German
technical school and their teaching methods. Timoshenko took interest in
reading Rayleigh's book The Theory of Sound and he was particularly
captivated by the approximate methods of calculating vibration frequencies
of complex structures. In 1907-1908 he gave a full course on Strength of
materials and later on published in lithographic form. He investigated a
number of new problems involving the stability of compressed bar. In
connection with the Quebec Bridge disaster in Canada he started working on
the theory of stability of composite beams and found simpler methods of
solving problems. In 1908, in addition to teaching duties, Timoshenko was
given administrative responsibility which interested him little. In 1912
when he went to England and found that the lab facility at Cambridge
University was poorer than those in German laboratories. The books of Lord
Raleigh exerted a large influence on the development of Timoshenko's
scientific work. In 1913 Timoshenko became Professor of Ministry of Ways
of Communications and Electrical Engineering Institute. Then he joined as
Professor at Zagreb Polytechnic and he continued up to 1922 and for some
time Timoshenko worked at Westing House. In the U.S, Timoshenko felt the
thoroughness of the training in mathematics and basic engineering subjects
gave him enormous advantage over Americans especially in solving
nonstereotyped problems. He also observed that there is a good
communication between scientists and engineers in America than in Europe.
In 1927 a special Chair of Research in Mechanics was offered to
Timoshenko. His lectures on Applied Mechanics at the University of
Michigan attracted a large number of students from other departments and
also young teachers. In Michigan summer session in applied Mechanics was
instituted and many luminaries from Europe like Prandtl, Southwell,
Westergaard and Karman participated. During this period he published a
number of books such as Strength of Materials, Theory of Elasticity and
Elastic Stability. In 1936 he moved to Stanford University and during this
period he published Engineering Mechanics, Theory of Plates and Shells,
Theory of Structures and Advanced Dynamics. He wrote his last book on
History of Strength of Materials where he traced the history from Leonardo
da Vinci and Galileo to the present. The Stanford University laboratory of
Engineering Mechanics was named after him. He was elected to a number of
many reputed Societies such as National Academy of Science, U.S, and the
Royal Society, London. He received many honorary doctoral degrees from
various universities such as Lehigh, Zurich Tech Institute and Glasgow
University. In 1935, American Society of Mechanical Engineers conferred
upon him the Worcester Reed Warner Medal for achievement in the field of
Mechanics. Stephen Timoshenko enriched the lives of thousands of his
students and colleagues during his many years of active work. He is known
to many as a teacher, writer, researcher and adviser and he can be called
as the father of engineering mechanics.      
1957     Stephen P. Timoshenko     1971     Howard W. Emmons     1988
George K. Batchelor     
1958     Arpad L. Nadai     1972     Jacob P. Den Hartog     1989     Bernard
     Sir Geoffrey Taylor     1973     Eric Reissner     1990     Stephen H.
     Theodore von Karman     1974     Albert E. Green     1991     Yuan-Cheng
B. Fung     
1959     Sir Richard Southwell     1975     Chia-Chiao Lin     1992     Jan D.
1960     Cornelius B. Biezano     1976     Erastus H. Lee     1993     John L.
     Richard Grammel     1977     John D. Eshelby     1994     James R. Rice     
1961     James N. Goodier     1978     George F. Carrier     1995
Daniel D. Joseph     
1962     Maurice A. Biot     1979     Jerald L. Ericksen     1996     J. Tinsley
1963     Michael James Lighthill     1980     Paul M. Naghdi     1997     John R.
1964     Raymond D. Mindlin     1981     John H. Argyris     1998     Olgierd C.
1965     Sydney Goldstein     1982     John W. Miles     1999     Anatol
1966     William Prager     1983     Daniel C. Drucker     2000     Rodney J.
1967     Hillel Poritsky     1984     Joseph B. Keller     2001     Ted
1968     Warner T. Koiter     1985     Eli Sternberg     2002     John W.
1969     Jakob Ackeret     1986     George R. Irwin     2003     Lambert B. Freund

1970     James J. Stoker     1987     Ronald S. Rivlin     2004     Morton E.

BOOK BY TIMOSHENKO :- (rates as on Yr'2004)

1) History of Strength of Materials
Author(s): Stephen P. Timoshenko
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2) Mechanics of Materials (Pws-Kent Series in Engineering)
Author(s): James M. Gere, Stephen P. Timoshenko
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3) Theory of Elastic Stability
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5) Theory of Structures
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6) Mechanics of Materials: Solutions Manual
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Hindustan Construction Company, Mumbai, India

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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 94

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:00 am    Post subject: Prof. S. TIMOSHENKO :- Father of Engineering Mechanics Reply with quote

Timoshenko: Father of Engineering Mechanics

References :
1) http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/Oct2002/Oct2002ArticleInABox.htm
2) http://smitu.cef.spbstu.ru/timoshenko_en.htm
3) http://ece.clemson.edu/crb/misc/scientists/timoshenko.htm

memory of Prof. S. P. Timoshenko.

Vivek G. Abhyankar

Hindustan Construction Company, Mumbai, India

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