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Obituaries: Thomas K. Caughey; Cornelius J. Pings

California Institute of Technology
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honors and obits.indd 52 E N G I N E E R I N G & S C I E N C E N O . 1 / 2 2 0 0 5 In 1959, Caughey designed a por- table earthquake-making machine, a.k.a. an eccentric-mass vibration generator that was the forerunner of the shaking machines used by civil engineers around the world today. At a memorial service held May 5 for Thomas Kirk Caughey, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Profes- sor of Mechanical Engineer- ing, Emeritus, who died December 7, 2004, colleagues paid tribute to the talented Scotsman who came to Caltech as a graduate student and stayed there all his life. Caughey was a leader in the fields of dynamics and vibra- tions, fluid-induced forces in turbomachinery, stochastic nonlinear systems, and struc- tural monitoring and active control of large structures. His awards included the Freudenthal Medal and the von Kármán Prize, both from the American Society of Civil Engineers. A native of Rutherglen, Scotland, he became inter- ested in acoustics and engines (especially quiet electric engines) because of the noisy tugs on the river Clyde, whose single-cylinder engines could be heard for miles around. At Glasgow University, he earned undergraduate degrees in both electrical and mechan- ical engineering in 1948, then worked at Howden & Co., an engineering company, where he devised an automatic machining system for a new type of rotary compressor that earned him a welcome on the shop floor. A Fulbright scholarship took him to Cornell in 1951, where he earned an MME in 1952. That same year he came to Caltech, where he earned his PhD in just two years. Caltech made him an assistant professor in applied mechanics in 1954, and a full professor in 1962. He was named the Hayman Profes- sor in 1994, and the Hayman Professor, Emeritus in 1996. One of his former graduate students, Sami Masri, now a professor at USC, said, “He was without a doubt one of the most, if not the most, influential member of

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