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Civil engineer William McGuire dies at age 92


William McGuire, professor of civil and environmental engineering emeritus, died at home in Ithaca Jan. 31 at age 92.

McGuire, an expert in steel structures, joined the Cornell faculty in 1949. He was promoted to associate professor in 1952 and professor in 1960, and served as the school's director from 1966-68. He received emeritus status in 1989.

Born in Staten Island, N.Y., McGuire received a B.S.C.E. degree from Bucknell University in 1942, after which he served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific as an aircraft maintenance officer aboard the U.S.S. Franklin.

Following World War II, he earned a M.C.E. degree in structural engineering at Cornell, while having his first opportunities to serve as an instructor for undergraduate courses. From 1947 to 1949 he worked for Boston's Jackson & Moreland Engineers as a structural designer of power plants and atomic energy projects.

McGuire was the author of two influential textbooks: "Steel Structures" and "Matrix Structural Analysis." Since the 1970s, he was an innovator in the application of interactive computer graphics techniques to structural engineering, in the computer-aided analysis and design of framed structures, and in establishing the importance of nonlinear analysis and design for steel structures.

McGuire's teaching, mentoring, research, writing and consulting earned him wide respect from his students, colleagues and those in the structural engineering profession. In 1994 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and was named an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

McGuire's consulting as a licensed professional engineer included the design of special structures and the investigation of a number of structural failures. He was deeply involved in the planning, design, upgrade and maintenance of the radio telescope structure at Arecibo Observatory at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Puerto Rico. He was also co-designer of the Fall Creek Suspension Bridge.

Colleagues remember McGuire as a gentleman, an avid reader of nonfiction, and a wonderful conversationalist who invoked history, travel, politics and current news in addition to what he termed his "sea stories," many of which had nothing to do with the Navy. For the Cornell civil engineering faculty, he was the sole source of tales of when the school inhabited Lincoln Hall before its move to Hollister Hall in 1959.

McGuire is survived by two sons, two granddaughters and two great-grandsons. The school is planning a memorial gathering to be held in September. Memorial gifts may be made to the William McGuire Master of Engineering Fellowship in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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John Carberry