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Gems of Structural Engg - T.Y. Lin - (Post-4)

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:48 am    Post subject: Gems of Structural Engg - T.Y. Lin - (Post-4) Reply with quote

Tung-Yen Lin

(November 14, 1912 – November 15, 2003)

By Sarah Yang

T.Y. Lin, a professor emeritus in civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visionary whose pioneering work in prestressed concrete had a profound influence on modern structural design, left this world on Saturday, Nov. 15-2003, at age of 91Yrs, at his El Cerrito home after a fall resulting from a mild heart attack. He had remained active throughout his life, having met with former students and worked at his San Francisco office the week before his death.

T. Y. Lin was a structural engineer who was the pioneer of standardizing the use of prestressed concrete. Born in Fuzhou, China as the fourth of eleven children, he was raised in Beijing where his father was a justice of the ROC's Supreme Court. He did not begin formal schooling until age 11, and only so because his parents forged his birth year to be 1911 so that he would qualify. At only 14, entered Jiaotong University's Tangshan Engineering College (now Southwest Jiaotong University), having earned the top score in math and the second best score overall in the college entrance exams for his entering class. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1931 and left for the United States, where he earned his master's degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1933. Lin's master's thesis was the first student thesis published by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Lin returned to China after graduation to work with the Chinese Ministry of Railways. Before too long he earned the reputation of being a “good engineer”. This positioned him to become the chief bridge engineer of the Yunnan-Chongqing Railway and oversaw the design and construction of more than 1,000 bridges.

In 1941, Lin married Margaret Kao, whose father was also a Supreme Court justice in China. Five years later, while Lin was working in Taiwan to help in the transition from Japanese to Chinese rule after the end of World War II, he accepted an invitation to join UC Berkeley's faculty. He returned to UC Berkeley to join its faculty in 1946, and began to research and develop the practice of prestressed concrete. He did not invent prestressed concrete, but he did develop it for practical use (The inventor of prestressed concrete is Eugene Freyssinet of France). Lin retired in 1976 to work full time at T.Y. Lin International, a firm he founded in 1954. After selling that firm, he left it in 1992 to found Lin Tung-Yen China, which oversees engineering projects in China.

When Lin received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he handed over a 16-page plan for a 50-mile (80 km) bridge linking Alaska and Siberia across the Bering Strait, a project he dubbed the Intercontinental Peace Bridge. He also proposed a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar that would have 16,000-foot (4,900 m) spans and 3,000 feet (910 m) tall towers. Lin was also the first recipient of the A.S.C.E. lifetime achievement in design award, and the society renamed the prestressed concrete award to the T.Y. Lin award.

Engineers were often architects in the early 1900s, but by the late '40's, this aspect of engineering had been all but forgotten. Lin was saddended by this situation. But during the last century, particularly in America, construction got rushed ahead. Lin fought against the pressures of economy by incorporating more aesthetics into his bridges and developing new techniques that increased economy. Lin believed that "engineering approach should be a global vision of the bridge. To fit the environment and to express the structural forces and moments, and nature itself." Attention had to be paid not only to the details of the bridge, but also to the surrounding landscape. Prestressing the concrete allowed Lin to accomplish the goal of incorporating unique shapes without sacrificing the bottom line.

Among his engineering accomplishments were the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, the Kuan Du Bridge in Taiwan, and the roof of the National Racetrack in Caracas, Venezuela.

He died of a heart attack at age 91. His El Cerrito home is the world's first residential structure made of prestressed concrete. His home features a 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) dance floor serving as monument to his favorite pastime, dancing.

"Lin's legacy is international," said Karl Pister, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and dean emeritus of the College of Engineering. "Almost every continent you go to there will be structures with T.Y. Lin's mark on them. He was a one-of-a-kind person of incredible creative vision in structural design," said Pister, whose collaborations with Lin on engineering materials date back to the 1950s.

Considered one of the greatest structural engineers of his time, Lin earned a reputation for combining elegance and strength in his designs. Evidence of Lin's work can be seen worldwide, from San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center to the Kuan Du Bridge in Taiwan to the roof of the National Racetrack in Caracas, Venezuela. The Moscone Center's 22,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall was the world's largest underground room at the time it was constructed in 1982.

"There was no way to be around T.Y. and not respond to his remarkable energy, enthusiasm and clarity of mind," said Alex Scordelis, professor emeritus of structural engineering at UC Berkeley and a colleague of Lin's for more than 50 years. "It's what made him a great engineer, a great colleague and one of Berkeley's great teachers."

compiled from follwoing sources
- wikipedi
- 'Prestressed concrete' by T. Y. Lin
- T. Y. Lin foundation website
- other forum / discussion groups
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