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Prof. Edward L. Wilson- Pioneer of FEM

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Dr. N. Subramanian
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 4:09 pm    Post subject: Prof. Edward L. Wilson- Pioneer of FEM Reply with quote

Prof. Edward L. Wilson- Pioneer of FEM

Prof. Edward L. Wilson (born 5 September 1931 in Ferndale, California) is an American civil engineer and academic who is known for his contributions to the development of finite element method. He was the T.Y. and Margaret Lin Professor in Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently the Professor Emeritus at the civil and environmental engineering, UC Berkeley.

Since the 1960s, Professor Wilson has been at the forefront of modern computerized structural analysis, responsible for imagining, creating and implementing numerical methods for static and dynamic analysis that have revolutionized the way structural engineers work. His early research was truly groundbreaking and he continued to develop solver technology, optimization routines, and dynamic solutions that increased the accuracy and quality of the work produced by professionals in the field.

Prof. Wilson  is considered to be one of the early pioneers in the field of finite element analysis and its applications. He is credited with having written the first widely accepted computer package for structural analysis (SAP) and has co-authored the widely cited book in FEM, "Numerical Methods in Finite Element Analysis", with Klaus-Jurgen Bathe.

Professor Wilson wrote the first automated finite element analysis computer program in 1961 and was the original developer of the CAL, SAP and ETABS series of computer programs. These programs are noted for their accuracy, speed, use of very efficient numerical algorithms and accurate finite elements. During the past ten years, Ed Wilson has worked as a Senior Consultant to CSI on the programming and documentation of these new methods of computational structural analysis.

He has published over 180 papers, reports and books. Supervised 29 Doctor’s Degree Students


Born in Ferndale, California, Prof. Wilson  received his B.S., M.S., and D.Eng. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in 1955, 1959, and 1963 respectively. He earned the master's and a doctoral degree under Ray W. Clough.

Prof. Wilson has over fifty years of professional experience in Civil, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Former Professor and Vice Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department at University of California at Berkeley (1965-1991).

Appointed as the T.Y. and Margaret Lin Professor in Engineering, 1990.
Received Berkeley Citation, 1991

Prof. Wilson  was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1985 and is a recipient of The John von Neumann Award.

Received the Huber, 1974, and Howard, 1995 awards by ASCE for his contributions to the Structural Engineering Profession.

Professional Societies

Member, ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers

Member, EERI, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute

Member, USCOLD, United States Committee on Large Dams

Member, SEAONC, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California
Currently Member of

Engineering Criteria Review Board for BCDC

Seismic Review Committee for the UC Berkeley Campus

Member of the Seismic Instrumentation Advisory Committee for the Golden Gate Bridge.

President of the  T. Y.  Lin Foundation

Selected Projects

Field Engineer Ten Mile River Bridge on State Highway 1, 1953

Project Engineer for the Model Analysis and Material Studies of Oroville Dam, 1958-60

Wrote the first automated finite element analysis computer program and analyzed Norfork Dam, 1960-62

Developed numerical methods and computer programs for the stress analysis of the Minuteman missile and the APOLLO space capsule 1963-65

Developed the original three-dimensional earthquake analysis programs SAP, 1969, ETABS, 1973, SAP80 1980 and SAP2000.

Developed the computer programs SMIS, 1963, and CAL, 1976, for the Computer Assisted Learning of static and earthquake analysis of structural systems. Various versions of these programs have been used worldwide.

Consultant on the new Bay Bridge, retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael and Golden Gate Bridges and many other major projects.

Download Links for his book, Software and other info.

Chapters of his book Static and Dynamic Analysis Of Structures can be downloaded from: http://www.edwilson.org/Book/book.htm
This is a “must read” book for all researchers and professionals working in the field of modern structural engineering

A free copy of his Software Computer Assisted Learning of Structural Analysis Procedures can be downloaded from http://www.edwilson.org/CAL-SAP/cal__sap.htm

His website also contains numerous info. For example, to read some Humorous and Real Stories visit

A sample from his joke collection:
A Civil Engineer Dies

A Civil Engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates.  St. Peter checks his dossier (without his eye glasses) and says, "Ah, you're a Civil Engineer -- you're in the wrong place."  So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements.  After a while, they've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?" Satan replies, "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next." God replies, "What? You've got an engineer?  That's a mistake -- he should never have gotten down there; send him up here." Satan says, "No way.  I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him."  God says, "You send him back up here or I'll sue." Satan laughs uproariously and answers, "Yeah, right - and just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?"

His 80th birthday was sponsored and celebrated on Sept 23rd 2011 by Computers & Structures, Inc. at Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas.
see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uez9zaVKPdc

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