Parks College Names Distinguished Professor of Mechanics

December 19, 2012
Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Aviation Science, Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Parks College News

Paul C. Paris, Ph.D., joins the Saint Louis University faculty in January 2013

Paul C. Paris, Ph.D., known as the father of modern methods for predicting crack growth and its control in aircraft structures, has been named a Distinguished Professor of Mechanics at Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.

alexander-parisTheodosios Alexander, Sc.D., Dean and Paul Paris, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Mechanics

A distinguished professorship is the highest honor that can be bestowed on any Parks College engineering faculty member. Paris will start his position January 1, 2013.

“I am deeply honored to have been chosen as a distinguished professor for this vibrant college of engineering and aviation,” said Paris. “I feel extremely privileged and excited to have the opportunity to mentor faculty in their areas of research and teach some of the brightest students in the country at Saint Louis University.”

Paris is the first Distinguished Professor to be named by Theodosios Alexander, Sc.D., since his return to St. Louis as the Dean of Parks College.

“I have known Professor Paris for most of my professional career. Paul has repeatedly proven himself to be a gifted educator, a brilliant engineer and truly a most valuable mentor to many young people over the years” stated Alexander.

Alexander believes that this hire will continue to promote his vision of influencing the teaching at Parks College with world-leading research.

Paris from his earliest days in the field has integrated outstanding engineering research in the curricula of several leading universities.

In the summer of 1955 Paris was teaching at Lehigh University and working as a faculty associate at the Boeing Company when he made the engineering breakthrough that now bears his name — Paris’ Law of Crack Propagation. The law describes crack growth with the aim of predicting the number of cycles to failure, and thus the remaining lifetime of a part. It is now routinely used to design parts that vibrate, such as aircraft bodies and automobile cranks.

The scientific article describing this law continues to receive thousands of citations per year in the scientific literature, leading the number of citations in any department where Paul has worked.

Over the next 15 years Paris taught courses on a new analytic method called fracture mechanics at both Boeing and Lehigh, and from 1976 on at Washington University in St. Louis, introducing the subject to many colleagues who continued to develop the field with him. Fracture mechanics now is a standard component of an engineering education.

Alexander and Paris were colleagues in Washington University’s Mechanical Engineering department throughout the 1980’s. Paris’ course in fracture mechanics is the longest continuously running course in the field.

“Under his mentorship I expect the faculty of Parks College to reach new heights in quality research outputs, scholarly activity, and engineering education, especially in interdisciplinary fields in collaboration with other colleges and industry partners.”
Theodosios Alexander, Dean of Parks College

Paris has received many awards for his contributions to fracture mechanics. In 2003, he was awarded the third Crichlow Trust Prize (a medal and a $100,000 honorarium) by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In 2009, he was awarded the George Irwin Gold Medal by the International Conference on Fracture in Ottawa, Canada, the first gold medal ever issued by that conference.

About Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. The University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 14,000 students. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. Through teaching, research, health care and community service, Saint Louis University has provided one-of-a-kind education, leadership and service for nearly two centuries.

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