Franklin Laureate Database
Ray W. Clough, Sc.D.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Laureate Video (16.5M)
Award: Benjamin Franklin
Citation: The 2006 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Civil Engineering is awarded to Ray Clough for revolutionizing engineering and scientific computation and engineering design methods through his formulation and development of the finite element method, and for his innovative leadership in applying the method to the field of earthquake engineering with special emphasis on the seismic performance of dams.
Ray Clough, renowned for pioneering the field of earthquake engineering, is credited with the development and application of a mathematical procedure--finite element analysis--used to analyze the stresses on buildings and other structures, such as dams. In finite element analysis, a physical structure is broken down into substructures called "finite elements." These elements and their interrelationships are converted to equations and solved mathematically. Once earthquake stresses on a structure's design have been identified using Clough's analysis, architects and engineers can modify the design to withstand earthquakes. This technique became a key analytical tool in the young field of earthquake engineering.
After graduating from the University of Washington's civil engineering program in 1942, Clough served as an Air Force Weather Officer until beginning his graduate studies at MIT in 1946. He received his Sc.D. in civil engineering in 1949. He then taught at the University of California, Berkeley for nearly 40 years, until retiring to become emeritus professor of civil engineering in 1987. Clough is credited with developing the Earthquake Research Center at UC Berkeley. Clough served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Earthquake Engineering and is the recipient of many honors including the George W. Housner Medal from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Prince Philip Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering in London. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Chinese Academy of Engineering. In 1994, President Clinton presented Clough with a National Medal of Science.