Eric BeckerColleagues and friends of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics mourn the loss of Professor Emeritus Eric Becker. Dr. Eric Baker Becker III, age 80, died on Saturday, February 23, 2013, in Austin, Texas surrounded by his family.

Eric Becker was born January 14, 1933, to Adelaide Goodenough Becker and Eric Baker Becker in Dallas, Texas. A graduate of Highland Park High School, Eric received his BS and MS degrees in Architectural Engineering from The University of Texas and his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Eric joined the faculty of Aerospace Engineering in 1966 and moved to the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at its creation in 1968. He served as an active faculty member until 2007 when he became Professor Emeritus. He supervised the graduate degrees of more than 55 students, many of whom are research leaders in their own right. He was a founding member of the Texas Institute of Computational Mechanics (TICOM). He served as the graduate advisor of Engineering Mechanics for about 15 years and touched literally hundreds of graduate students in multiple ways. A much-admired professor, Eric earned the UT Graduate School Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1978.

A pioneer in complex problem solving in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, Eric’s work impacted a wide range of engineering and scientific fields ranging from solid rocket motors, fusion research, design of elastomeric components, tires, fracture mechanics, plasticity and viscoelasticity theory, scientific computing algorithms, mesh generation and principles for software engineering. His textbook on finite elements, co-authored with two TICOM colleagues, remained the top text in the field for over two decades.

His professional and academic achievements were many, and he was a lifelong supporter of University of Texas athletics. Eric was an enormous presence, gentle and soft-spoken, with unwavering devotion to his family, and most especially his wife Candy; with her artistic creations and sensibilities, they were a wonderful team. He was an intellectual well grounded by his avid interests in golf, poker, motorcycles and other manly pursuits. He was as humble as he was intellectually extraordinary.

Eric is survived by his wife, Candy Gray Becker of Austin, his four children, Allison and her husband Ronnie Chapman of Austin, David Becker of Los Alamos, New Mexico, Margie Becker and husband Glenn Smith of Austin, Elizabeth Becker and husband John Van Ness of Austin, and stepdaughters:  Margaret Lowry and husband Andy Bradshaw of Fort Worth and Mary Lowry of Corona del Mar, California; and his eight grandchildren: Jennifer Bailey, Katie Smith, Joseph Jury, Sara Chapman, Emily Becker, John Patrick Jury, Charles Bradshaw, James Bradshaw; and two great-grandchildren, Jaxon and Brenna Bailey.

As a tribute to his memory and his dedication to teaching and research in Engineering Mechanics and Computational Mechanics, Dr. Becker’s friends, family and former students are establishing a scholarship for graduate students in Engineering Mechanics. The Eric Becker Graduate Scholarship in Engineering Mechanics will be awarded annually. Contributions may be made at this link or by downloading a pledge form.