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Memorial Tributes: Volume 3 (1989)

Chapter:George Winter

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Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page360
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page361
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page362
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page363
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page364
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page365
Suggested Citation:"George Winter." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page366

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GEORGE WINTER 1907-1982 BY ANTON TEDESKO GEORGE WINTER was born on April I, 1907, in Vienna, Aus- tria, ant! died November 3, 1982. At the time of his death, he was Class of 1912 Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell University. An engineer, teacher, researcher, anct industry consultant, George Winter became chairman of Cornell's Department of Structural Engineering in 1948. He served in this position for twenty-two years, during which time he brought inter- national ctistinction to himself, to the department, anc! to the university. He was a member of several international engi- neering groups, was fluent in four languages, and main- tained friendships worldwide. George Winter grew up in Vienna during a time of great cultural and intellectual activity. As a youth, he was exposed to and influenced by what went on in the worIcis of science, art, literature, drama, and music. The Vienna intellectual cli- mate contributed to his well-rounded education. After study- ing engineering for a year in Vienna, he moved first to Stutt- gart and then to Munich, where he received his diploma engineer degree from the Institute of Technology in 1930. In his first job, he worked on the construction of the first building that was built higher than permitted under the con- ventional building code of Vienna. In July 1931 George Win- ter and Anne Singer were marriecl, anct in April 1932 they 361

362 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES journeyed to Russia, where George secured a position in structural design and construction uncler Russia's first Five- Year Plan. He also held a teaching assignment at the Mining Institute in SvercIlovsk. Their son Peter was born in August 1934. Because the Russia of the purges was not a place in which the Winters wanted to remain, they returnee] to Austria in early 1938. Winter was then offered a fellowship at Cornell University, and in August 1938 he enrolled at Cornell as a doctoral stu- clent in structural engineering. Two years later, he received his Ph.D. and became a staff member at Cornell, a position he retained throughout his life. George's entry into the research field of steel structures was timely. An expanding market for thin steed structures hacl created a demand for rational standarcis of design. In adctition, Cornell's Dean Solomon Cady Hollister had ob- tained support from the industry to conduct the required research. His educational background ant] experience in en- gineering practice providecl him with the correct perspective for this type of design-orientec! research program. His work led to the publication of the first edition of the American Iron and Steel Institute Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members in 1946. Most of the re- search and writing of this cocle, ant] of many subsequent edi- tions, can be attributed to George Winter. The code became the generally accepted international stantlar(1 in the field. As an outgrowth of his work in thin steel structures, George Winter also became deeply involved in the writing of stanciards for heavier steel construction, serving for many years as a key member of the American Institute of Steel Construction Specification Committee. He was also chairman of the Column Research Council. His research contributions in the steed area included inves- tigations of the buckling and postbuckling strength of thin- walled shapes, the effects of coicI-forming, anct ductility ef- fects, as well as torsional and flexural buckling.. In addition to his contributions in cold-formed steel and structural steel

GEORGE WINTER 363 design, Winter's interest in reinforced concrete structures spanned his entire professional career. His reinforced con- crete research centered on such topics as long-term cleflec- tions, microcracking, progressive fracture and failure, and inelasticity and strength. He devoted much time and energy to the revision and im- provement of the Building Code of the American Concrete Institute (ACI), providing leadership for the introduction of a rational approach to structural safety involving load and resistance factors. For twenty-eight years, until his death, Winter was a member of the ACT Building Code Committee and repeatedly the chairman of one of its subcommittees. His influence on the development of reinforced concrete de- signs was further extended through his efforts as coauthor of the fifth through ninth editions of the book Design of Con- crete Structures. Although George Winter exercised great influence on many aspects of structural engineering research and prac- tice, perhaps his greatest impact was in his role of teacher. He was curious to know the basis of every idea when it was stripped down to its roots, and he could explain complex ideas simply and clearly. He demanded much of himself and of others in his quest for improvement. As Professor Floyd Slate put it in the preface to a com- memorative volume published at the time of Winter's retire- ment in 1975, "The atmosphere which he consistently cre- ated in the classroom was exhilarating: the clarity, the stimulation, the thought-provoking questions, the personal interactions, the sincerity, the dedication all of these things and more made his teaching both a challenge and an excite- ment." This same commitment to excellence and to nurtur- ing the ability to think critically extended to his work as thesis adviser to his many graduate students. Winter taught many engineers who have gone on to become leaclers in the struc- tural engineering profession. His presence was felt far beyond Cornell's College of En- gineering. He played a central role in the intellectual life of

364 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES the university, particularly in the arts and sciences, through which he maintained many friends. George Winter was a strong supporter of music, and he took an active interest in the musical well-being of the Cornell community. He served on and chaired the Faculty Music Committee and was chair- man of the Friends of Music at Cornell. He was a long-time member of the Andrew D. White anct Herbert F. Johnson museums and of the Cornell Library As- sociates. Prehistoric archaeology was another interest George pursued for many years. He was a member of the American Archaeological Institute ant! participated in the Smithsonian Archaeological Expedition to Egypt in 1966. Winter was elected to membership in the National AcacI- emy of Engineering in 1970. He served on the Committee on Membership for three years, and he also served on a com- mittee of the technical pane! of the National Research Coun- cil's Advisory Committee to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of this committee, he prepared a critique of the criteria developed by the National Bureau of Stanciards, which NBS subsequently changed. George Winter was named an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the American Concrete Institute. He received three national awards from the American Concrete Institute: the Wason Research Medal for Research (1965), the Henry C. Turner Medal (1972), and the Joe W. Kelly Aware] (19791. He also received three na- tional awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers: the Leon S. MoisseiffAwar(1 (1948), the Croes Medal (1961), and the E. E. Howard Aware! (1981~. In September 1982 Winter receiver] the prestigious Inter- national Award of Merit in Structural Engineering from the International Association for Bridge ant! Structural Engi- neering, "in appreciation of his outstanding contributions in research and teaching of structural engineering." He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from his undergracluate university, the Technological University of Munich. He was the author or coauthor of more than eighty tech-

GEORGE WINTER 365 nical papers, many of which dealt with the results of his re- search. He also server! as visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan, the Uni- versity of California at Berkeley, and the University of Liege. He lectured at the universities of Glasgow, Bristol, anal Cam- bricige in the United Kingdom. His professional accomplishments were many, but his first love was his family. The Winter family enjoyed spending va- cations in the Alps, mountaineering with or without skis, or at their summer home on Mount Desert Islanc] in Maine. George Winter is survived by his widow, Anne Winter, of Ithaca, New York, and West Tremont, Maine, ant] by a son, Peter Michael. Peter is professor and chairman of the De- partment of Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh anct lives in Pittsburgh with his wife anc! two children. George Winter was unique in being able to excel in so many roles—first ant! foremost, as a teacher who nurtured critical thinking, but also as a researcher, an author, a mem- ber of professional committees, a developer of building codes, and a leader in engineering education and campus cultural life. He greatly expanded the horizons of his stu- clents, colleagues, and friends.

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