Modern Steel Construction » Steel in the News » Bill McGuire, Structural Engineering Visionary, Dies at 92

Steel in the News

Back to all posts

Bill McGuire, Structural Engineering Visionary, Dies at 92
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 4, 2013 at 6:02 PM.

mcguire-1.jpgWilliam (Bill) McGuire, Ph.D., P.E., professor emeritus at Cornell University, passed away on January 31 at his home, surrounded by family. He was 92 years old.


McGuire had long been recognized as a structural engineering visionary. In addition to his skills as an educator, he had the reputation for looking at how technology may advance in the future and how engineers and society can prepare for it. This foresight won him ASCE’s Norman Medal in 1962 (with G.P. Fisher) for an atomic power plant containment design and led him to write one of the most widely respected textbooks on steel design, Steel Structures, in 1968. In addition, it led to his innovative and groundbreaking work in computer graphics for structural engineering.


In the mid-1970s he foresaw the ability of computers to simulate more completely the behaviors of structures. Almost two decades later in 1992 this foresight was rewarded with AISC’s prestigious T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award for his application of computer graphics to the structural engineering industry. In 2000 he won another of AISC’s highest awards, the Geerhard Haaijer Award for Excellence in Education, for the impact his research and teaching has had on advancing the use of structural steel framing in the construction industry. He was also instrumental in the AISC Committee on Specifications through the early 1990s.


McGuire was born in Staten Island, New York. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Bucknell University, magna cum laude, in 1942, he served in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft maintenance officer on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Fleet. Following World War II, he earned a master’s in structural engineering at Cornell and was then engaged by Jackson & Moreland in Boston as a structural designer of power plants and atomic energy projects.


In 1949 he joined the faculty of Cornell University’s School of Civil Engineering and was named professor emeritus after 40 years of service in 1989. During that time he also spent periods as a visiting faculty member at various universities around the world. His research, teaching and consulting interests were primarily in the area of steel structures, and he had authored or coauthored more than 40 technical and professional papers and texts as well as contributed to numerous monographs and handbooks.


McGuire’s consulting work included the design of special structures and the investigation of a number of structural failures. He had a longtime involvement on behalf of Cornell in the planning, design, upgrading and maintenance of the large radio telescope structure of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo, Puerto Rico. He was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and an Honorary Member of ASCE.


Before his passing he had been gradually working on a video history of Cornell’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department with John F. Abel, Ph.D., P.E., professor emeritus at Cornell, in anticipation of the university’s 150th anniversary in 2015. The video, including interviews with McGuire, after editing will eventually be available online on the eCommons site of the Cornell Library.


You can read more about McGuire’s great contributions to the structural steel industry in the June 2000 issue of MSC. Click here for a PDF of the article.

Bookmark and Share