Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 2

Honoring the deceased members and international members of the National Academy of Engineering, this volume is an enduring record of the many contributions of engineering to humankind. This second volume of Memorial Tributes covers the period from January 1979 to April 1984.

Honoring the deceased members and international members of the National Academy of Engineering, this volume is an enduring record of the many contributions of engineering to humankind. This second volume of Memorial Tributes covers the period from January 1979 to April 1984.

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  • HUBERT RUSCH 1903-1979


    HUBERT RUSCH was born December 13, 1903, in Dornbirn, Aus­tria, and died October 17, 1979, in Munich, Germany. He was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering in 1977. At the time of his death he was Professor Emeritus of the Technological University of Munich, an author of books and arti­cles, and a consultant in many branches of civil engineering. He was considered the elder statesman in the fields of prestressed concrete, in the theory of reinforced concrete, as well as in the knowledge of concrete material properties and phenomena such as creep-areas in which he made contributions of fundamental importance over a span of several decades.

    A practical engineer with a solid theoretical foundation, Professor Rusch had the gift for finding simple solutions when problems became deadlocked among professional colleagues. He was fluent in five languages, could express his ideas effectively, and had countless friends among engineers, scholars, researchers, and builders throughout the world. As a member of numerous engineering groups, he combined great technical ability with charm and an outstanding diplomatic performance on an international level. Innu­merable publications have shown his innovative ideas, described his new theories and concepts, and proved him an engineer of unusual creativity and productivity.

    Hubert Rusch came from an engineer's  family.  His  grandfather and father managed the family-owned Rusch Works, a machine factory in Dornbirn, Austria, which existed until World War II. Turbines built there are still in operation in Austria. His parents, Karl and Anna Winder Rusch, had three sons, all of whom became engineers. Hubert was the youngest, and he went to school in Dorn­birn, spending a great deal of time in the Austrian mountains. By the time he went to college he had become a well-known mountain climber.

    He studied civil engineering at the Institute of Technology in Munich, received his engineer 's diploma in 1926, and thereafter joined Dyckerhoff and Widmann AG, Engineers and  Contractors, at Wiesbaden, Germany. They were pioneers in reinforced concrete construction. There he worked under Franz Dischinger and Ulrich Finsterwalder, the inventors of concrete shell construction. He soon made a name for himself contributing to the design, model testing, and execution of significant structures, such as the record span domes for the Great Market Halls at Leipzig, Frankfurt, and Buda­pest. In 1930 he received a Doctor of Engineering degree from the Munich Institute of Technology, based on a thesis on the theory of narrow unsymmetrical cylindrical shells.

    In 1931 his company sent him to its Buenos Aires office where he introduced modern construction techniques and other innovations. During the three years in Argentina he was Chief Designer and Planner of industrial shell structures. In the mid-1930s Dyckerhoff and Widmann transferred him to Berlin where he directed  the design and the economical planning of complex European struc­tures: industrial plants, waterfront construction, domes, aircraft hangars, prestressed concrete trusses (System Rusch), and precast concrete construction. He was the engineer in charge of the plan­ning, design, and construction of the Volkswagen plant, the largest single-story factory in Europe, a shell structure built in a planned manufacturing cycle.

    In 1935 Hubert Rusch was married to Trude Kate Maria Meier, and they had three children. Bombed out in Berlin at the end of World War II, they escaped unharmed before the advancing armies of the USSR. Having lost all their possessions, they walked with their children to Austria where they were taken in by relatives. Not many months later, Hubert Rusch became active in the rebuilding  of the Dyckerhoff and Widmann organization in Munich.

    In 1948 Hubert Rusch accepted a professorship  of civil engineer­ing  at  his  almamater,  renamed  the  Technological  University of Munich. There he specialized in reinforced concrete and  the  new field of prestressed  concrete  construction.  He  conceived,  created, and was appointed the Head of the new government  materials  test­ing, research, and development laboratory that was attached to the university. The laboratory soon became known worldwide, and he served as its Head until 1969. Fifty to sixty research programs were usually in progress with about eighty researchers  under his direction  in the field of metals and reinforced and prestressed concrete.

    The prestressed concrete codes of many countries are based on Professor Rusch's ideas, and numerous international standards are the product of his influence and skillful guidance. Hubert Rusch's impact internationally was aided by the fact that he was a citizen of Austria, a nonaligned country. More than 150 publications, includ­ing books, reflect his activities in research and as a practicing con­sultant. He was a rare example of perfect balance between scientific rigor and awareness of the needs of practical application. Moreover, he was adept in bringing clarity to many problem areas. His name is connected with contributions in many fields: the structural behavior of concrete, creep, shrinkage, bond, crack formation, bending the­ory, safety theory, and probabilistic approach. His work in general led to a better understanding of basic relationships, principles, and the behavior of structural components. For many of his students and collaborators he was the model of creative activity. It is safe to say that he influenced progress in his field more than any other engineer. At the same time he was interested in music and literature and contributed articles in the field of education and liberal arts.

    Hubert Rusch was a well-known lecturer in many countries, including the United States. He was a Visiting Professor at Cornell University and at the University of Texas. He was also active in many engineering societies, where he was extraordinarily able in creating a spirit of constructive collaboration.

    He left his mark on the American Concrete Institute, which elected him an Honorary Member; on the Comite Euro-Interna­tional du Beton, which made him its Honorary President; and  on the Reunion Internationale des Laboratoires et Materiaux, which made him an Honorary Member. He was a past Vice-President of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering, as well as an Honorary Member of the Associazione Italiana Cemento Armato e Precompresso, and a Founding Member of the Federation Internationale de la Precontrainte.

    Hubert Rusch held an honorary doctorate from the University of Dresden, East Germany; received the Longstreth Medal of the Franklin Institute of Pennsylvania; and the Alfred E. Lindau Award and the Wason Medal of the American Concrete Institute. In Ger­many he was honored as a recipient of the Carl Friedrich Gauss Medal and of the Emil Morsch Medal.

    Hubert Rusch was a giant of a man with an unusual gift for human understanding and relationships. He is survived by a son living in Munich and two daughters, who live with their families in the United States and with whom he was able to eajoy skiing as late as the winter before his death.

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