Gary Curtis Hart was born in San Bernardino, California and died in Marina del Rey, California on October 21, 2017. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California in 1965, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in structural engineering from Stanford University in 1966 and 1968, respectively. His PhD dissertation was titled “Response of Three-Dimensional Buildings to Multiple Random Wind Loads”.
Gary joined UCLA in 1968 as an Assistant Professor, advancing to Associate Professor with tenure in 1974, and full Professor in 1979. Gary was among the founding faculty of the Civil Engineering Department in 1983. He retired from the active faculty in 2001, after which he worked full time in private practice, focusing on structural engineering.
Gary taught many courses over his 33 year academic career, but was perhaps best known for three undergraduate courses (141 Steel Structures, 144 Structural Systems Design, and 147 Tall Buildings) and a graduate course entitled (244) Loads and Safety in Civil Structures. These courses inspired countless UCLA students over three decades. In his 2004 autobiography, he stated “At my core, I believe that I am a teacher of something very special, and that is structural engineering” and “Teaching is something that I enjoy in many different forms.”
Gary was a prolific researcher, making significant contributions in the general area of probabilistic structural dynamics. He was particularly noted for his contributions in system identification, building dynamics from wind loads, estimation of structural damping, analysis of reinforced masonry structures, and performance of isolation systems for structures. His work in these areas was recognized with several prestigious awards, including the Walter Huber Award (1981) and Earnest Howard Award (1993) from ASCE.
Gary advised over 25 doctoral students during his career, several of whom have gone on to be leaders in the profession, including Rodolfo Saragoni (1972, University of Chile), Marshall Lew (1976, Wood Engineering), and Thomas Sabol (1985, Englekirk Institutional and UCLA). In recalling Gary, Tom Sabol states “I was fortunate to have Gary as my PhD advisor. While he emphasized intellectual rigor, he also gave me excellent professional advice that has served me well in my career.” Marshall Lew adds: “I took the very first class that Gary taught at UCLA in Fall 1968. It was the Introduction to Dynamics course and Gary’s dynamic (pun intended) teaching style really inspired me to pursue engineering more. Ultimately, through Gary’s mentoring through my undergraduate and graduate days at UCLA, I graduated with my BS, MS and PhD degrees in Engineering. It was my preparation for a lasting career in Earthquake Engineering that has been most rewarding. Gary’s example and leadership has challenged and enabled me to think constructively, be a problem solver, and contribute to the profession.”
Gary is fondly remembered as innovative and brilliant structural engineer, a caring and dedicated teacher, and a colleague with great passion and dedication to UCLA and his profession. He is survived by his wife Marianne McDermott Hart and daughter Kristine.