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Русская версия


Vladimir Tcheparukhin,
Assistant Professor

He was the first in the Pleiades
of outstanding scientists.



Timoshenko S.P.
Stepan Timoshenko
Stepan Prokofievich Timoshenko was born in the Ukraine. He studied and worked at the St. Petersburg Institute of Railroad Engineering. Upon graduation he was offered a job as laboratory assistant (and junior lecturer) at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute and a flat in the institute's teaching staff block. Then he left St. Petersburg for a short time and, when
he came back, he first started working as a professor at his
alma mater Institute of Railroad Engineering and later - at the Polytechnic and Electrical Engineering Institutes. After the revolution of 1917, Timoshenko went to Kiev and, together with V.I. Vernadsky, became one of the founders of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukraine. In 1919 he went to Yugoslavia and then to the USA where he was recognized as "the father of American engineering."


      Many years later during the winter of 1962-1963, at the insistence of Ye.N. Vechorin, chairman of the society of the former St. Petersburg polytechnic specialists in France, Timoshenko wrote an extensive book of his Memoirs. The book tells how, while living abroad the great Russian scientist developed, how he enriched his knowledge and extended his scientific views. It also tells of how the scientific cooperation with the outstanding professors V.L. Kirpitchev and I.V. Meschersky at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute guided Timoshenko to new ways of bringing theory and practice closer together. This was one of the specific features of Timoshenko's scientific style, which attracted students wherever he was teaching: in Russia, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia or the USA.

St. Petersburg Emperor Alexander I Institute of Railway Engineering (above, on the left); St. Petersburg Emperor Peter the Great Polytechnic Institute (above, on the right); St. Petersburg Emperor Alexander III Institute of Electrical Engineering. Photograph by Bulla 1900-1910.


      In the USA, Timoshenko started working in the Westinghouse company plants as a technical consultant. Soon his consulting activities were extended and supplemented with teaching. Timoshenko's books attracted the attention of American academic circles, and in 1927 he was offered to head the Chair of mechanics for training future Doctors of engineering sciences at the University of Michigan. This was the beginning of his teaching and scientific careers in the USA.

      Timoshenko's lectures on applied mechanics at the University of Michigan attracted many students and young teachers from different departments. His fame as a brilliant lecturer quickly spread across the country. His listeners admired
his talent for explaining the most difficult subjects in simple and clear words.

      During the years of his activities at Michigan and Stanford Universities, Timoshenko published a number of fundamental works. The last work by the world known scientist - The History of the Resistance of Materials from Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo to the Present Day - was published in 1953. The book was translated into Russian and published in Moscow. Although the number of copies reached as many as 15 000, it was sold out immediately.

S.Timoshenko (front row, second from right) with students and teaching
staff of the University of Michigan.
Photograph 1936.
      Timoshenko's long-standing devotion and fruitful activities in science were duly recognized. He was elected a member of 17 Academies and scientific societies throughout the world and was awarded 10 prestigious gold medals for his scientific merits: two medals in Russia before 1917, three in the USA, one in France, one in Belgium, one in England and one James Watt International medal which is awarded every five years to the most outstanding engineer in the world.

      Timoshenko's works have made it possible to reach many scientific and technical achievements in the present time, and his books have become manuals for leading mechanical engineers and builders throughout the world.

      At the 12th international congress on theoretical and applied mechanics, which took place at Stanford University in the USA in 1968, chairman professor N. Fofth admitted that, "before professor S. Timoshenko's arrival, real mechanics in the USA did not exist." Visual evidence of Timoshenko's outstanding services to world science are his rewards, honorary diplomas and other certificates which were displayed during the congress in Timoshenko's memorial room situated at Stanford University.


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