In memoriam: Charles Taylor, professor emeritus and renowned photomechanics researcher


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Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor
MechSE professor emeritus Charles Edwin Taylor, an illustrious former TAM faculty member, has passed away. He was surrounded by family members at his Gainesville, FL home, according to his obituary in the News-Gazette.

Below is an article from A History of the TAM Department, 1945-1990:

Charles Edwin Taylor (BSME 1946, MS Engrg Mechs 1948, Purdue; PhD TAM 1953, UIUC) joined the TAM department as an instructor in 1948; in 1951, he became an assistant professor; he resigned in 1952 to work at the David Taylor Model Basin while continuing his doctoral research under Professor Henry L. Langhaar. Then in 1954, he returned as assistant professor, and he was promoted to associate professor in 1955. From 1957 to 1981, he was a full professor, devoting most of his research efforts to the development of new techniques in photomechanics. In 1981, at age 57, he retired from UIUC and continued his research at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he currently resides with his wife, Nikki.

It was at Purdue in the late 1940s that Taylor was introduced to photoelasticity by Professor E. O. Stitz. Taylor continued his research in three-dimensional photoelasticity through the 1950s, although his doctoral thesis on shell theory, written in absentia under Langhaar at UIUC during that period, spawned some papers on pressure-vessel design due to his work at the David Taylor Model Basin. In 1966, he published a paper with Professor Bowman and graduate students Walter P. North and W. Frank Swinson on “Applications of lasers to photoelasticity” in the SESA journal Experimental Mechanics. Taylor’s students Walter North, John Hemann, and Bob Rowlands were among the first students to use the ruby laser for dynamic photo-elasticity, including scattered-light applications. Thereafter he and several graduate students developed many optically based methods for analyzing stresses, deflections, and strains in solids using various combinations of photoelasticity, holography, and moiré for both static and dynamic problems.

Taylor advised many doctoral students, including Daniel Post (1957), Robert Thoms (1962), Walter North (1965), Tom Mulcahy (1966), John Hemann (1967), Bob Rowlands (1967), Dave Holloway (1971), Bill Ranson (1971), Don Henley (1973), Mike Hung (1973), Champ Hu (1974), John Turner (1975), Jim Brunnhoeffer (1977), James F. Doyle (1977), Mike Tafralian (1980), Bill Chao (1981), Fred Mendenhall (1981), Mike Sutton (1981), and Albert Wong (1981).

For his research and activity in national societies, Taylor has been recognized often. He has been named Fellow of five societies (SESA [now SEM], ASME, AAAS, AAM, SES), and has received several awards from SESA—the M. M. Focht Award (1969), the M. Hetényi Award twice (1970, 1973), and the Murray Lectureship (1974). He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1979. In 1987, Taylor returned to UIUC to receive an Engineering Alumni Award; and in 1990, he gave an invited talk at TAM’s Centennial celebration.

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This story was published January 2, 2018.