Stephen Timoshenko (1878-1972) was a renowned expert, teacher and writer widely regarded as “the father of applied mechanics” in the U.S. So great was his influence that his active years in the field became known as “the Timoshenko era.”
Professor Timoshenko came to Stanford in 1936 and stayed for the next two decades. He authored 13 popular and influential textbooks; the best known of these, Strength of Materials, was first published in Russia in 1911. His Engineering Mechanics text was translated into over 10 languages. At Stanford he formed the Division of Applied Mechanics and assembled an internationally famous faculty that served as a magnet to students and scholars who came from all over the United States and the world.
Professor Timoshenko received a great many honors and awards including elected membership of the Royal Society of London; the U.S. National Academy of Science; and the French Academy of Science, and numerous honorary doctor's degrees and medals.
In 1957 the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established the Timoshenko Medal. It is conferred in recognition of distinguished contributions to the field of applied mechanics and honors Stephen Timoshenko as a world-renowned authority in applied mechanics and commemorates his contributions as author and teacher. To date, it has been awarded 65 times. He was the first recipient and the citation for his medal noted that “he guided a new era in applied mechanics.”
Professor Timoshenko donated his medals and his personal library, containing an extensive collection of old and rare books on mechanics, science, and engineering, to Stanford University. A special “Timoshenko Room” houses this collection on the Stanford campus. A portrait of Timoshenko hangs in the main conference room of the “Mechanics and Computation Group,” and the conference room is also named in his honor. Professor Timoshenko’s seminal contributions live on as foundational knowledge in our current teaching and research.