In Memoriam: Professor Bruno A. Boley

Feb 14 2017 | Photo: Frank DiMaggio

Bruno A. Boley

Bruno A. Boley, who died on February 11, 2017, was a distinguished figure in Engineering Mechanics, both as scientist and administrator.

He was born in Gorizia, Italy in 1924 with the original family name Bolafio. After a hurried exit from Italy to escape anti-Semitic laws, and a circuitous trip through Europe, his family arrived in the United States in 1939. A change in family name and a quick high school experience followed.

His path through higher education began with a B.S. in civil engineering from the College of the City of New York in 1943, and, in 1946, as a student of the eminent Nicholas Hoff, the Sc.D in aeronautical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he remained as Assistant Professor until 1948. After practicing engineering at Goodyear Aircraft for two years, he returned to academia as Assistant Professor of aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University until 1952, Associate and then Full Professor of civil engineering at Columbia University until 1968, J.P. Ripley Professor and Chairman of the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell University until 1972, and Walter P. Murphy Professor and Dean of the Technological Institute of Northwestern University until 1986, when he returned to stay at Columbia.

He made significant contributions in a wide spectrum of applied mechanics, reportedin over 100 technical papers, but his most important work, for which he received international recognition, was in the analysis of thermal stresses, much of which was exhibited in the classic treatise “Theory of Thermal Stresses”, which he co-authored with J. Weiner.

Concurrently with his scientific work, he was involved with many governing bodies and technical societies in mechanics. He was founder of the Association of Chairmen of Departments of Mechanics, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Mechanics Research Communications and served as President of the American Academy of Mechanics and the Society of Engineering Science. He was on the Board of Governors of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Argonne National Laboratory, and was chairman of the U.S. Committee on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.

In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the Warner Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1975 and the Theodore von Karman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1991. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975.

Professor Boley’s interest in intellectual areas outside his principal discipline was eclectic. He had a particularly deep knowledge of European (especially Italian) literature and history and was a very accomplished public speaker.

He was predeceased by his wife Sara, his daughter Jacqueline and his brother Lucio and is survived by his son Daniel and granddaughter Lelwani.