Raymond D. Mindlin

Raymond D. Mindlin

Raymond David Mindlin (New York City, 17 September 1906 to 22 November 1987) was a mechanician who made seminal contributions to many branches of applied mechanics, applied physics, and engineering sciences. Mindlin was the second of three sons of Henry, a prosperous businessman, and Beatrice (née Levy).


In 1924 he enrolled at Columbia University, where he received a B.A. followed by a B.S. in 1931, and in 1932 by a C.E. and the Illig medal for "proficiency in scholarship." During his graduate study, Mindlin attended a series of summer courses organized by Stephen Timoshenko in 1933, '34, and '35, and there is no doubt that the experience at Ann Arbor served to confirm him in his choice of his life's work.


For his doctoral research Mindlin set himself a fundamental problem in theoretical elasticity: determining the stresses in an elastic half-space subjected to a sub-surface point load. The results, nowadays referred to as "Mindlin's problem", represent a generalization of the two classical 19th century solutions respectively associated with the names of Kelvin and Boussinesq, and have become the basis for analytical formulations widely employed in geotechnical engineering. His paper was published in "Physics" (now the Journal of Applied Physics) in 1936, the year Mindlin received his Ph.D. degree.

Mindlin remained an assistant for another two years, at which point he was elevated to instructor in civil engineering, and only in 1940 did he receive promotion to assistant professor.

In 1942 Mindlin was co-opted by the Applied Physics Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland, an institution engaged in naval ordnance work, where he contributed in the development of the proximity fuze. For his part in its success, he was presented with the Presidential Medal for Merit.

He came back to Columbia in 1945 as an associate professor, and two years later attained the rank of professor. In 1967 he was appointed James Kip Finch Professor of Applied Science until his retirement in 1975.

Mindlin died on November 22, 1987, in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Contributions to research

"The Collected Papers of Raymon D. Mindlin" (2 vols, Springer-Verlag, 1989) collected 129 papers authored or co-authored by Mindlin. The major contributions of Mindlin were summarized in 8 papers by his students and friends in a book dedicated to his retirement, R.D. Mindlin and Applied Mechanics (Pergamon, 1974). These include:

* Photoelasticity and experimental mechanics
* Classical three-dimensional elasticity (e.g., Mindlin's problem)
* Generalized elastic continua (Strain-gradient and couple-stress theory)
* Frictional contact and granular media
* Waves and vibrations in isotropic and anisotropic plates (Mindlin's Plate Theory)
* Wave propagation in rods and cylinders
* Theory of electro-elasticity and piezoelectric crystal resonators
* Crystal lattice theories


Mindlin served with devotion the profession which he made his life's work, through his research, his teaching, his advisory capacity to numerous government agencies, and his activities in various scientific and technical societies. Among the latter, mention is warranted of the following positions he held at various times: In the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), chairman, Applied Mechanics Division; member, Publications Committee, Engineering Societies Monographs Committee, Advisory Board of Applied Mechanics Reviews. In the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), chairman, Committee on Applied Mechanics of the Structural Engineering Division (precursor of the Engineering Mechanics Division). In the Society for Experimental Stress Analysis (SESA), co-founder and president; member, executive committee. In the American Institute of Physics, associate editor, Journal of Mathematical Physics. Also, he was member of: the U.S. National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics; the General Assembly of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM); the American Physical Society.

Awards and honors

*Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1958),
*Fellow, ASME (1962),
*Fellow, Acoustical Society of America (1963);
*Member, National Academy of Engineering (1966)
*Member, National Academy of Sciences (1973);
*Honorary Member, ASME (1969).

*Research Prize (1958) and the von Karman Medal (1961) of the ASCE;
*Timoshenko Medal (1964) and the ASME Medal (1976) of the ASME;
*Trent-Crede Award of the Acoustical Society of America (1971);
*Frocht Award of the SESA (1974);
*Great Teacher Award (1960) and the Egleston Medal (1971) from Columbia University;
*Honorary D.Sc. degree from Northwestern University (1975);
*Naval Ordnance Development Award (1945)
*C. B. Sawyer Award of the Army Electronics Command (1967).
*Presidential Medal for Merit (1946),
*National Medal of Science, (1979).


* "The Collected Papers of Raymond D. Mindlin", edited by H. Deresiewicz, M.P. Bieniek, F.L. DiMaggio, Springer-Verlag, 1989.
* R.D. Mindlin and Applied Mechanics, edited by George Herrmann, Pergamon Press, 1974.
* [http://www.worldscibooks.com/engineering/6309.html An Introduction to the Mathematical Theory of Vibrations of Elastic Plates] , by R D Mindlin, edited by Jiashi Yang, World Scientific, 2007

ee also

* List of National Medal of Science recipients
* Timoshenko Medal

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