Donald L. Cronin died on March 1, 2022, at the age of 86. He was born on August 18, 1935, in Mineola, New York to Jeremiah G. and Lois E. Cronin, née Parsons. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rutgers University in 1957, a Master of Science degree, and a PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 1961 and 1966, respectively.
Professor Cronin’s academic experience began with an evening lectureship at the University of Southern California in 1969. He joined the University of Missouri at Rolla (UMR), now Missouri S&T, as an Associate Professor in 1970. He was tenured in 1974 and promoted to Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) in 1977. He retired from UMR in 2000.
Dr. Cronin served in the US Army for two years between 1958 and 1960. He arrived at UMR with impressive professional experiences to his credit. He served as a Development Engineer at the Linde Company, a division of Union Carbide (1957-1958); a Research Engineer at Barden Bearing Company (1960); a Senior Research Associate at the Jet Propulsion Lab (1961); a Member of the Professional Staff at TRW Systems Group (1965-1970); and a NASA-ASEE Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (1975 & 1976). He had significant associations with Ford Motor Company, as a Resident Fellow (1973), and a Research Specialist in Structural Dynamics (1977, 1978 & 1996). He was on sabbatical leave at Ford for the year 1987-1988.
Professor Cronin was active in professional consulting with major companies including Carrier Corporation, Dayco, Easi Engineering, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Ingersoll-Rand Corporation. His research interests lay in the areas of structural dynamics; vibrations analysis and testing; nonlinear, hybrid and coupled systems; and mechanical design and numerical methods. His PhD work in response to excitation of linear, damped systems having time-varying frequencies was ahead of its time.
A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Dr. Cronin was a recipient of several honors: 1993 Jefferson Smurfit Fellow, 1972 Ralph R. Teetor Award, for Outstanding Young Educators, from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), two NASA Technical Brief Awards for innovations developed while working under NASA Contracts, UMR Faculty Advisor of the Year (1974-75), noted for his development of student leadership qualities, high standards of professionalism and his organizational abilities. He was a member of Pi Tau Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi, and served as a Faculty Advisor to the UMR Solar Car Team through the 1990s. Dr. Cronin and his wife Sigrid served as parade marshals for the 2014 St. Pat’s Parade; Dr. Cronin was named an Honorary Knight in 1993, and Sigrid in 2004.
Dr. Cronin had close relations with his graduate students. He and Sigrid would often host them for dinners or picnics. As one grateful graduate student recalled, “he had a way of making difficult engineering concepts seem simple, explaining them in a way that we were able to learn and understand the material. He helped me develop research and problem-solving skills that I later used in my own career.”
Dr. Cronin, and other retirees, volunteered to participate in the “Habitat for Humanity” program, to build houses for deserving needy families. He was an avid reader of newspapers and books about history and politics. He loved vintage cars and traveled internationally to car shows and automobile museums. He and Sigrid traveled frequently to visit her family in Germany. They spent the last few years of his retirement in Newberg, OR.
Dr. Donald Cronin was a kind, thoughtful and compassionate mentor, and scholar. He and Sigrid were married for 55 years. He will be greatly missed by all who knew, admired, and loved him. He is survived by his wife Sigrid, and their two sons, Andrew, and Thomas.
Dave Bayless, Clark Barker, Terry Lehnhoff, and Ashok Midha