|Vector Mechanics for Engineers Beer & Johnston|
|About the Authors
About the Authors
"How did you happen to write your books together, with one of you at Lehigh and the other at UConn, and how do you manage to keep collaborating on their successive revisions?" These are the two questions most often asked of our two authors.
The answer to the first question is simple. Russ Johnston's first teaching appointment was in the Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at Lehigh University. There he met Ferd Beer, who had joined that department two years earlier and was in charge of the courses in mechanics. Born in France and educated in France and Switzerland (he holds an M.S. degree from the Sorbonne and an Sc.D. degree in the field of theoretical mechanics from the University of Geneva), Ferd had come to the United States after serving in the French army during the early part of World War II and had taught for four years at Williams College in The Williams-MIT joint arts and engineering program. Born in Philadelphia, Russ had obtained a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware and an Sc.D. degree in the field of structural engineering from MIT.
Ferd was delighted to discover that the young man who had been hired chiefly to teach graduate structural engineering courses was not only willing but eager to help him reorganize the mechanics courses. Both believed that these courses should be taught from a few basic principles and that the various concepts involved would be best understood and remembered by the students if they were presented to them in a graphic way. Together they wrote lecture notes in statics and dynamics, to which they later added problems they felt would appeal to future engineers, and soon they produced the manuscript of the first edition of Mechanics for Engineers.
The second edition of Mechanics for Engineers and the first edition of Mechanics of Materials Mechanics for Engineers found Russ Johnston at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the next editions at the University of Connecticut. In the meantime, both Ferd and Russ had assumed administrative responsibilities in their departments, and both were involved in research, consulting, and supervising graduate students---Ferd in the area of stochastic processes and random vibrations, and Russ in the area of elastic stability and structural analysis and design. However, their interest in improving the teaching of the basic mechanics courses had not subsided, and they both taught sections of these courses as they kept revising their texts and began writing the manuscript of the first edition of Mechanics of Materials.
This brings us to the second question: How did the authors manage to work together so effectively after Russ Johnston had left Lehigh? Part of the answer is provided by their phone bills and the money they have spent on postage. As the publication date of a new edition approaches, they call each other daily and rush to the post office with express-mail packages. There are also visits between the two families. At one time there were even joint camping trips, with both families pitching their tents next to each other. Now, with the advent of the fax machine, they do not need to meet so frequently.
Their collaboration has spanned the years of the revolution in computing. The first editions of Mechanics for Engineers and of Mechanics of Materials Mechanics for Engineers included notes on the proper use of the slide rule. To guarantee the accuracy of the answers given in the back of the book, the authors themselves used oversize 20-inch slide rules, then mechanical desk calculators complemented by tables of trigonometric functions, and later four-function electronic calculators. With the advent of the pocket multifunction calculators, all these were relegated to their respective attics, and the notes in the text on the use of the slide rule were replaced by notes on the use of calculators. Now problems requiring the use of a computer are included in each chapter of their texts, and Ferd and Russ program on their own computers the solutions of most of the problems they create.
Ferd and Russ's contributions to engineering education have earned them a number of honors and awards. They were presented with the Western Electric Fund Award for excellence in the instruction of engineering students by their respective regional sections of the American Society for Engineering Education, and they both received the Distinguished Educator Award from the Mechanics Division of the same society. In 1991 Russ received the Outstanding Civil Engineer Award from the Connecticut Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and in 1995 Ferd was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree by Lehigh University.
Two new collaborators, Elliot Eisenberg, Professor of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, and Robert Sarubbi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Lehigh University, have joined the Beer and Johnston team for this new edition. Elliot holds a B.S. degree in engineering and a M.E. degree, both from Cornell University. He has focused his scholarly activities on professional service and teaching, and he was recognized for this work in 1992 when the American Society of Mechanical Engineers awarded him the Ben C. Sparks Medal for his contributions to mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering technology education and for service to that society and to the American Society for Engineering Education. Bob holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the Cooper Union, and a M.S. in Civil Engineering and Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics, both from Lehigh University. After working for five years at Bell Telephone Laboratories on missile systems and design, Bob joined in 1968 the faculty of Lehigh University, where he has specialized in the teaching of system dynamics and design. His research involvement has been in structural mechanics, thermo-fluid systems, and stochastic processes and random vibrations.
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