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Tung-Hua Lin

Professor of Civil Engineering, Emeritus

UC Los Angeles

1911 – 2007


I would like to pay my highest, most sincere respect and tribute to Professor Tung-Hua Lin, who died on June 18, 2007, at the age of 96.


Professor T.H. Lin was truly a giant in his long career, and in the field of engineering mechanics and aerospace. He was also the kindest gentleman that I have ever met; he was a true role model and inspiration for all of us who knew him and admired him. Indeed, we are most fortunate to have had Professor T.H. Lin as our senior colleague, the founder of the Structures and Mechanics Department at UCLA, and a pioneer in solid mechanics, plasticity, dislocations, persistent slip band, fatigue of metals, and materials science. We will forever miss his broad smiles, kind personality, gentle conversations, everlasting enthusiasm, and his inspiring wisdom.


I first met Professor Lin in March 1993 when I came to UCLA to give a research seminar. I had known his great contributions to the field of engineering mechanics for a long time. I still remember the excitement I felt back in March 1993 when I first shook Professor T.H. Lin’s hands. I told him that I admired him very much, and that it was an honor for me to finally meet him and to be able to shake his hands. He smiled and told me, “Well, let us shake hands one more time then!” Surely, I shook his hands a few more times. That was the beginning of our beautiful friendship over the past 14 years at UCLA.


Professor Lin was born in China in 1911. After his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1933 from the Jiao Tong University, he was one of the first select group of Chinese students to earn a highly competitive fellowship to come to the USA for graduate study. He attended MIT and earned a Master’s degree in 1936. He returned to China in 1937, and worked as a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Later he devoted his energy and time to design and built the very first airplane in China in light of the World War II with Japan. It was a miracle that Professor Lin, with only his memory of aeronautics and a few English textbooks, could lead his team to design and build the first twin-engine transport airplane ever made in China, named C-0101. Without any wind tunnel tests, Professor Lin even flew with the test pilot on the plane’s successful maiden voyage.


Professor Lin returned to the USA in 1949 with his wife and three children, Rita, Robert, and James. He later earned his Sc.D. degree from the University of Michigan in 1953, and he joined UCLA Engineering in 1955 as a visiting professor and became a regular professor the following year. He was with UCLA Engineering School for 52 years. He put engineering mechanics at UCLA on the world map over the past five decades. Professor Lin officially retired in 1978 at the age of 67. However, he only pretended to retire on paper, as he continued to be very active in teaching, research, publications, and supervision of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows over the past 29 years in retirement. He even came to his office at UCLA to find some references for his research, on the Friday before his passing on Monday, June 18, 2007.


Professor Lin received the prestigious Theodore von Karman Medal in 1988 from the American Society of Civil Engineers, to honor his pioneering contributions to engineering mechanics. In 1990, he was elected as a Member of the USA National Academy of Engineering. In June 2001, a Gingko tree was planted in front of UCLA’s Boelter Hall to commemorate his 90th birthday. Furthermore, a very special T.H. Lin 90th Birthday Symposium in Mechanics and Materials was held in June 2001 in San Diego, and a phenomenal special T.H. Lin 95th Birthday Symposium in Mechanics and Materials was held in July 2006 in Los Angeles to honor his lifetime achievements in the fields of solid mechanics and materials science.


Professor Lin’s entire career and life was an incredible miracle and a true inspiration to all of us. His everlasting presence, humble personality, and trademark smiles will continue to motivate us all for decades to come. We would like to express our highest admiration and gratitude for his important contributions to science and engineering, and his kindest guidance for many of us.



J. Woody Ju