Nandivaram Elumalai Shanmugam, a global expert in steel structures, a former civil engineering professor at the National University of Singapore and the National University of Malaysia, and an ASCE life member, has died. He was 81.
Shanmugam, Ph.D., F.ASCE, grew up in a remote village of Tamil Nadu, India, where everyone followed an artisanal tradition. One of nine children, when Nandivaram began sharing how far he had walked every day to and from school, the family encouraged him to follow his studies to his heart’s content. “Shan” did so well in those studies that he ranked among the highest in the state and earned a scholarship to study civil engineering.
Over the course of a 43-year academic career, he carried on his passion for continuous learning, mentored many students, and contributed to books and research papers. He taught and researched at the University of Madras, Delhi University, University of Wales (Cardiff), and Polytechnic of Wales, and he published extensively on steel-plated structures, steel-concrete composite construction, long-span structures and connections, cold-formed steel structures, and elastic and ultimate load-behavior of steel structures, among other topics.
After marrying and starting a family, his achievements earned him an opportunity to continue doctoral studies in the United Kingdom. In time, the family moved first to Singapore, where he progressed through his career as professor, then eventually to the United States, where he and his wife spent their retired years close to their children and grandchildren.
Shanmugam traveled the world sharing his knowledge of structural engineering at conferences and other venues. He guided several master’s and Ph.D. students throughout his career, all of whom now serve in high positions in both industry and academia in many countries. His commitment and devotion to structural engineering was surpassed only by the love of his mother tongue, the Tamil language, both its history and practice.
He served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Constructional Steel Research, Journal of Thin-Walled Structures, International Journal of Structural Stability and Dynamics, Bridge Engineering–Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and others. Shanmugam was a Chartered Engineer and besides ASCE, a fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers, Royal Institution of Naval Architects, Institution of Engineers Singapore, and Institution of Engineers India, as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Singapore Structural Steel Society. Shanmugam was a co-recipient of the George Stephenson Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers, London.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master of science in structural engineering from the Guindy Engineering College, University of Madras, and subsequently received a doctorate from the University of Wales.
He was motivated by a love for his family, especially his grandchildren.