Elected For.Mem.R.S. 1982
On 2 September 1997, Warner Tjardus Koiter, Emeritus Professor in the theory of the stiffness, strength and stability of structures, died in Delft.
A teacher's on, Koiter was born in Amsterdam in 1914, but grew up and went to school in the town of Zutphen. From 1931 to 1936 he studied mechanical engineering at what was then the Technische Hogeschool Delft (now the Technische Universiteit Delft), where he graduated with honours. His first position was at the former Rijks‐Studiedienst voor de luchtvaart (now the Nationaal Lucht‐ en Ruimtevaartlaboratorium), where he immersed himself further in applied mechanics and more especially its practical application to engineering under the guidance of A. van der Neut. Koiter spent his evenings working on his dissertation, which he defended shortly after the war, in November 1945—again with honours, with C.B. Biezeno being his supervisor. Koiter had actually finished the dissertation in 1942 but, not wanting to graduate from a university that required a pledge of loyalty to the occupying forces, he waited until 1945. It was published in Dutch because German had been the only foreign language permitted during the war. Another fifteen years would pass before the original text was translated into English, under the auspices of NASA in the USA. At Harvard University in the late 1950s, Koiter presented the results of his research, which were received enthusiastically. However, when an American colleague asked whether he could publish it, the Dutchman was rather indignant: it had already appeared in 1945, after all.