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Stephen P. Timoshenko (1878–1972)

Stepan Prokopovych Timoshenko was born on December 22, 1878 in the village of Shpotivka in the Ukrain. Timoshenko’s early life seems to have been a happy one in pleasant rural surroundings. He studied at a “realnaya” school from 1889 to 1896.
Stephen P. Timoshenko (1878–1972)
Stephen P. Timoshenko (1878–1972)

Timoshenko continued his education towards a university degree at the St. Petersburg Institute of Engineering. After graduating in 1901, he stayed on teaching in this same institution from 1901 to 1903 and then worked at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute under Viktor Kyrpychov 1903–1906. His restlessness and discontent with the educational system extant in Russia at that time motivated the young Timoshenko to venture out to explore, examine, and assimilate diverse pedagogical views and cultures in France, Germany, and England. In 1905 he was sent for 1 year to the University of Göttingen where he worked under Ludwig Prandtl.

In the fall of 1906 he was appointed to the Chair of Strengths of Materials at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. Thanks to his tormented spirit at this institute, Timoshenko took the plunge to writing his maiden Russian classic, Strength of Materials in 1908 (Part I) and 1910 (Part II). From 1907 to 1911 as a professor at the Polytechnic Institute he did research in the area of finite element methods of elastic calculations, and did excellent research work on buckling. He was elected dean of the Division of Structural Engineering in 1909.

In 1911 he was awarded the D. I. Zhuravski prize of St. Petersburg; he went there to work as a Professor in the Electro-technical Institute and the St. Petersburg Institute of the Railways (1911–1917). During that time he developed the theory of elasticity and the theory of beam deflection, and continued to study buckling. In 1922 Timoshenko moved to the United States where he worked for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation from 1923 to 1927, after which he became a faculty professor at the University of Michigan where he created the first bachelor’s and doctoral programs in engineering mechanics. His textbooks have been published in 36 languages. His first textbooks and papers were written in Russian; later in his life, he published mostly in English.

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