T Y Lin

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Tung-Yen Lin (林同炎, pinyin: Lín Tóngyán) (November 14, 1912 - November 15, 2003) was a world-renowned civil engineer best known as the pioneer of standardizing the use of prestressed concrete.

Born in Fuzhou, China as the fourth of eleven children, he was raised in Beijing where his father was a justice of the ROC's Supreme Court. He did not begin formal schooling until age 11, and only so because his parents forged his birth year to be 1911 so that he would qualify. At only 14, entered Jiaotong University's Tangshan Engineering College, having earned the top score in math and the second best score overall in the college entrance exams for his entering class. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1931 and left for the United States, where he earned his master's degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1933. Lin's master's thesis was the first student thesis published by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Lin returned to China after graduation to work with the Chinese Ministry of Railways. He became chief bridge engineer of the Yunnan-Chongqing Railway and oversaw the design and construction of more than 1,000 bridges. He returned to UC Berkeley to join its faculty in 1946 and retired in 1976 to work full time at T.Y. Lin International, a firm he founded in 1954. He left that firm in 1992 to found Lin Tung-Yen China, which oversees engineering projects in China.

When Lin received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he handed over a 16-page plan for a 50-mile bridge linking Alaska and Siberia across the Bering Strait, a project he dubbed the Intercontinental Peace Bridge. He also proposed a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar that would have 16,000 foot spans and 3,000 feet tall towers.

Among his engineering accomplishments were the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, the Kuan Du Bridge in Taiwan, and the roof of the National Racetrack in Caracas, Venezuela.

He died of an heart attack at age 91. His El Cerrito home is the world's first residential structure made of prestressed concrete.

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