U.Va. Engineering Professor Emeritus Receives ASME Medal

Feb. 22, 2007 -- James G. Simmonds, emeritus professor of structural and solid mechanics at the University of Virginia, was recently awarded the Worcester Reed Warner Medal by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). 

The medal was presented to Simmonds in early November in Chicago at the ASME winter annual meeting.  The medal has been awarded each year since 1930 to individuals who have made substantial and enduring contributions to the literature of engineering.  Simmonds is honored “for seminal contributions to the linear and nonlinear theory of plates and shells, and an extensive body of expository journal publications and books on solid mechanics and applied mathematics.” 

Simmonds has published a number of important papers on different aspects of shell theory expanding the fundamental knowledge of elastic shells—or curved, thin-walled, material structures.  Shells are common and can either be naturally occurring or human made—examples include veins, bladders, balloons and soda cans.  Shells are integral to the engineering fields as engineers work to design and maintain structures.  Simmonds notes that he has worked to “simplify shell equations without losing the accuracy of the analysis of shells.”  Simmonds’ work has resulted in computational software and has implications for all areas of engineering, from biomedical to mechanical.

Simmonds also has an interest in finding new and innovative ways of teaching undergraduates.  He has produced several widely used textbooks, including two aimed at undergraduates.  An expository textbook Simmonds wrote on perturbation theory was designed especially for engineering undergraduates using an approach that was “commonsensical and not only for mathematicians,” he says. 

Simmonds was an active faculty member in the School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1966 until 1998.  Though Simmonds is retired, he maintains a strong connection with the University community.  He continues to conduct research and referee papers.  In addition, he serves as a math tutor with the Office of African-American Affairs and is very active with the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, preparing and grading the finalist math exams each year and serving as a member of the national selection committee.  In recognition of Simmonds’ forty plus years of service to the University, he was honored in 2005 with the U.Va. Engineering Foundation Distinguished Service Award.

Simmonds is a Fellow of the Amercian Academy of Mechanics; and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Mathematics Association of America and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Written by Melissa Maki, research communications coordinator for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies.