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January 7, 2016

Obituary: Tse-Chien “TC” Woo

tse-chien wooTse-Chien “TC” Woo, professor emeritus in mechanical engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering, died Dec. 14, 2015.

Woo was born on March 6, 1924, in Nanking (now Nanjing), the capital of the Republic of China, and raised in Shanghai.

He graduated from the Ordnance Military College in Chong-qing (Chungking) with an engineering degree, then moved to the United States in 1953, where he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington in 1954 and a PhD in applied mathematics from Brown University in 1960.

He was hired that year by Pitt as a faculty member in mechanical engineering and was awarded tenure in 1969.

Woo was co-author of the book “Classic Analytical Problems in Engineering.” In addition, the festschrift “Recent Advances in Elasticity, Viscoelasticity and Inelasticity” was published to honor him on his 70th birthday.

He retired from the University in 1994.

Woo’s early life in China took dramatic turns, as he recalled in personal memoirs. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, he and his family boarded the last refugee train to Hankow, where they were were split into three groups and separated by many miles. Woo and his older sister went to Hechuan to attend one of several middle schools created by the Chinese government for displaced students.

Later, he chose as his undergraduate major mechanical engineering “with heavy emphasis on weapons manufacturing,” he recalled. “I felt that this would be the most direct contribution that I could make to help fight the Japanese.”

After college he joined the Ballistics Institute, working on firing table calculations, recoil-less rifle theory and interior ballistics. He was slated to join one of the naval research institutes ceded to China by Japan after World War II when the Chinese civil war forced the nationalist government to move to Taiwan. There he worked in the Taiwan Fertilizer Co. as a mechanical designer before he moved to the U.S. in 1953. He first came to Pittsburgh to work for PPG, where he spent eight years as an engineer.

In retirement, he and his wife Lisa, a former Pitt librarian, enjoyed participating in a Chinese chorus and an investment club, as well as traveling.

Woo loved classical music (especially Beethoven and opera), swimming, reading and spending time with his family.

He is survived by his wife Lisa; daughter Rhoda Woo, her husband Mark Wainger and their children Alex and Lucy; son Andy Woo, his wife Gina, and their sons Miles and Julian.

—Marty Levine

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 9

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