One of the world’s premier programs in computational science, engineering, mathematics, and medicine at The University of Texas at Austin officially has a new name: the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences.
In February, the UT System Board of Regents voted to recognize the "leadership and generous support" of the institute’s founding director J. Tinsley Oden. In his honor, the top-ranked interdisciplinary research and teaching institute for computer modeling and simulation was renamed.
On May 8, UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves hosted a naming dedication honoring Oden.
“Under Tinsley Oden’s leadership, the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences became an internationally-renowned powerhouse,” Fenves said. “There is no better way for UT Austin to honor Dr. Oden's accomplishments and all that he has done for the university, than to name the institute he established in 2003 and built to be the very best, for him.”
The Oden Institute draws its faculty from 23 departments and five schools and colleges at UT. In 2017, it was ranked No. 1 worldwide in the field of interdisciplinary mathematics.
"As members of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, past and present, each one of us has been personally touched by Dr. Oden's vision, passion, leadership, and dedication. I could not be prouder to be the director of the Oden Institute," said Karen Willcox, who was selected as director when Oden stepped back into full time research in 2018.
Oden’s dedication to building a research institute for computational sciences began in 1973 when he arrived on campus. The same year he was hired as a UT professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, he started the Texas Institute for Computational Mechanics, a research group for faculty members and students.
His vision mobilized support from UT administration and donors, most importantly Peter O’Donnell, Jr., the philanthropist and founder of the O’Donnell Foundation. The professor’s ability to demonstrate the power and potential of computational science helped attract the funding and research expertise that transformed a small, interdisciplinary research group into what is now a world-renown research institute.
A prolific writer and researcher, Oden is an author of more than 600 scientific publications. His treatise, “Finite Elements of Nonlinear Continua,” published in 1972 and subsequently translated into Russian, Chinese, and Japanese, is cited as having not only demonstrated the great potential of computational methods for producing quantitative realizations of the most complex theories of physical behavior of materials and mechanical systems, but established computational mechanics as a new intellectually rich discipline that was built upon deep concepts in mathematics, computer sciences, physics, and mechanics. Computational mechanics has since become a fundamentally important discipline throughout the world, taught in every major university.