Designer of First Supersonic Wind Tunnel’s Foundation Dies at 96

BY 
May 25, 2018

Marlin L. Sheridan, Ph.D., of Coldspring, Texas, a Life Member who designed the foundation for the first supersonic wind tunnel and chaired the civil engineer department at Bucknell University, has died at 96.

Born in Johnstown, PA, Sheridan received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Bucknell. He later earned his civil engineering doctorate at the University of Michigan and returned to teach at Bucknell, eventually rising to chair the civil engineering department. He joined ASCE in 1943.

With a love of flying, Sheridan began his career as an aircraft engineer, delighted to see his wing designs come to life. He transitioned to foundation design, with one of his lasting achievements the design of a foundation for the first supersonic wind tunnel when the concept of supersonic flight was still a theory. He completed the design without data, and it worked.

Sheridan moved on to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development with an assignment in Quito, Ecuador. Joined and supported by his wife Betty, Sheridan caught the international work and travel bug, with assignments in Iran, Greece, Turkey, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia. He co-owned civil engineering consulting firms in Lewisburg and Canonsburg / Washington, PA.

Sheridan was active in the Methodist church, and served in the Navy during World War II.

A daughter, Nancy Kralik, P.E., ENV SP, LEED AP, F.ASCE, followed him into civil engineering. Kralik is the senior health, safety and environmental director at Fluor Corporation, and serves on ASCE’s Committee on Advancing the Profession.

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