John Tinsley Oden
TUM Ambassador 2022
An obituary by Professor Barbara Wohlmuth
He was a pioneer and a game changer in computational sciences and engineering (CSE). As founding director of the Texas Institute for Computational Mechanics (TICOM), nowadays the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, he influenced greatly the CSE graduate program. He served for many years as Associate Vice President for Research within the scientific community at UT Austin. He held the Cockrell Family Regents’ Chair in Engineering #2 and was a Professor of Mathematics, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and Computer Science. With his vision of interdisciplinary training, he shaped the field and influenced many generations of young scientists. His textbook on Finite Elements of Nonlinear Continua from the early seventies builds upon concepts in mathematics, computer sciences, physics, and mechanics and is still used today as a standard reference in many engineering classes.
Oden’s vision for an interdisciplinary institute served as a role model for TUM IGSSE. He was an often seen visitor at TUM IAS workshops on emerging fields, but also as a plenary speaker at the GAMM annual conference 2018 in Munich. In recognition of his significant contributions to TUM, he was bestowed with the title of TUM Ambassador by TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann in December 2022.
Known for his legendary work ethic and discipline, Oden was a great inspiration for our young doctoral researchers. Early on he promoted the idea of life-long learning. A prolific scientist, Oden was author of more than 800 scientific works and for decades Editor-in-Chief of CMAME. His numerous recognitions include the A.C. Eringen Medal, the Worcester Reed Warner Medal, the Lohmann Medal, the Theodore von Karman Medal, the John von Neumann medal, the Gauss/Newton Congress Medal, the Stephan P. Timoshenko Medal and the Zienkiewicz Medal. He was also knighted as “Chevalier des Palmes Académiques” by the French government and was a founding member of the U.S. Association for Computational Mechanics (USACM) and the International Association of Computational Mechanics (IACM). He was an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
By any metric, he was a giant in the field of simulation-based engineering science, but was also known for his genuine humor, generosity and creativity. It is a precious gift to have known him personally as a long-term friend and co-author.
Prof. Dr. Barbara Wohlmuth
Professor for Numerical Analysis
TUM School of Computation, Information and Technology