Tribute to Jim Yao

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From: Paul H. Wirsching

Recently I addressed an alumni group at St. Louis University, where I received a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I presented a capsule summary of my career, but prominent in the presentation was the contribution that Jim Yao made to my career. Jim was my PhD program advisor at the University of New Mexico where I finished the program in 1970.

I made an imaginary list of the people whom I have known who made a major impact in my life. Excluding family, Jim is number one.

In 1970 Jim was instrumental in obtaining for me a faculty position at the University of Arizona where I have been for 40 years, now Professor Emeritus. This was at a time when academic positions were hard to find. Later he was instrumental in getting me involved on a national level in the American Society of Civil Engineers.

When I was at UNM, Jim always made me feel that I was his only student. (I was convinced that I was his favorite). He was my constant advocate during and then after my days as a student.

The last professional contact that I had with Jim was when we served together on the Committee on Marine Structures, a program of the National Academy of Sciences (around 1995). I really regret not keeping in touch with him over the years since.

Words cannot express the enormous gratitude and the love that I had for Jim. He has an enormous legacy through his academic grandchildren (the PhD students of his own PhD students).

He will never be forgotten.

Paul H. Wirsching
University of New Mexico; PhD, class of 1970.
phw - at -

P.S. We still have a great recipe from Anna for cold noodles flavored with peanut butter and soy sauce.