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Alaa E. Mansour
In Memoriam

Alaa E. Mansour

Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus

UC Berkeley

Alaa E. Mansour, professor of mechanical engineering, emeritus, an international leader in probabilistic modeling of marine structures, passed away peacefully on New Year's Day of 2021 in his Tiburon home at the age of 83, after having held the upper hand in the battle over metastatic pancreatic cancer for 28 months.

Alaa Mansour was born in Egypt on February 5, 1937, and completed his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering magna cum laude at the University of Cairo in 1958. He received a M.S. (1962) and Ph.D. (1966) in Naval Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley. From 1965-1967, he worked at J. J. McMullen Associates, Inc. in San Francisco as Head of the Hull Section, and later joined M. Rosenblatt & Son, Inc. The early maritime experience provided balance in the classroom when he became an esteemed and popular teacher of probabilistic methods in maritime engineering.

In 1968, Mansour was recruited as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ocean Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1972. Returning to the west coast, he was appointed as a Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley in 1975, followed by an appointment as Professor in the Department of Naval Architecture and Offshore Engineering in 1980. He served as Department Chair during 1985-89. With planned administrative changes in the ocean-related programs in the College of Engineering in Berkeley, he was appointed professor in Mechanical Engineering in 1999.

Professor Mansour was an internationally recognized expert in his areas of specialization: structural reliability and safety, probabilistic dynamics of marine structures, and strength of ship and offshore structures. He was instrumental in the "Development of Reliability Based Classification Rules for Ships" for the classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the international marine industry. Together with two overseas colleagues (Douglas Faulkner of United Kingdom and Yukio Ueda of Japan), Mansour founded the International Journal of Marine Structures in 1988 and served as editor-in-chief from its inception until April 2009.

Mansour served as a consultant to the US Navy, the Italian classification society (The RINA Group), the US Coast Guard, and ABS. He actively contributed to the International Ship and Offshore Structures Congress (ISSC), serving on several committees and also on the Standing Committee. During 2000-2003, he was elected the ISSC chair. In this capacity, he organized the 2003 Congress in San Diego and co-edited a 3-volume proceeding, which was regarded as the best source of information on ocean structures in that era. His prominent professional standing was distinctively marked by being an elected Life Fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and by being awarded the prestigious Kenneth Davidson Medal of SNAME in 1998 for “outstanding scientific accomplishments in ship research.” In 2010, Professor Mansour received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering (OOAE) Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), in recognition of his important contributions to ship and offshore structure design.

Professor Mansour's courses in Advanced Marine Structures were the mainstay of the Ocean Engineering graduate curriculum at UC Berkeley and were very well received by graduate students. He was also well liked by his advisees, who especially appreciated his career guidance.

With Dr. Donald Liu of ABS, Mansour co-authored the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers reference book “Strength of Ships and Ocean Structures" (ISBN: 9780939773664). In the 90s, he conducted research and lectured at the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen. His influential contributions were recognized in 2001 when he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree (“doctor technices honoris causa”), the highest honor of that university, in recognition of “significant contributions to development of design criteria for ships and offshore structures.” In 2012, to his and his colleague Ronald Yeung's credit, the University of California received a multi-million dollar gift from ABS to support the Ocean Engineering academic program and its associated faculty, a significant and first gift of its kind for the Mechanical Engineering Department.

In more recent times, Professor Mansour devoted his research to the extraction of sustainable energy from ocean wind and waves. The prediction of the extreme values of response and loading from the combination of wind and waves was a challenge for the designers. He made notable contributions in this emerging area. Mansour retired as Professor Emeritus in July 2013. Peers and friends remember him fondly as a dedicated researcher and a gentleman.

Despite a busy academic and professional schedule, Alaa Mansour maintained a balanced life with his family to the end. He was an active tennis player, skier, scuba diver and adventure traveler. He is survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Dr. Elizabeth Zettersten, sons Frederick, Tamir, Tarik, and grandchild Thaddeus.

Ronald W. Yeung (Committee Chair, UC Berkeley)
Donald Liu (Seattle, formerly American Bureau of Shipping)
Elizabeth Zettersten (Tiburon, California)