News & Features

In Memoriam: Ned H. Burns


Nov. 8, 2016

Professor Emeritus Ned H. Burns passed away on
November 5, 2016, in Austin. An outstanding teacher, administrator and structural engineering researcher, he served The University of Texas at Austin for nearly 40 years.

Ned graduated as valedictorian from Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas and earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1954.

After two years in the U.S. Army, Ned completed a master’s degree at UT Austin in 1958 and a PhD in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1962.

Ned returned to The University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor in 1962, became a professor in 1972 and was named Zarrow Centennial Professor in 1983. He served Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Engineering for four years and Director of Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory for three years. Throughout the years, he also received numerous awards for exceptional teaching and advising at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

At the end of each semester, he would share his philosophy of engineering and life with students: "The truly great man is he who plants shade trees that he will never sit under."

faculty emeritus web

Structural engineering faculty in 1981. Top: Richard Furlong, Ned Burns, Jim Jirsa, Joe Yura Bottom: Phil Ferguson, John Breen

An expert in the area of prestressed concrete, Ned was the first to test the concept of banded tendons that is now standard industry practice for the construction of slabs. He was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2000 “for contributions to development and education in prestressed concrete including unbounded tendon building slabs and high-performance concrete bridges.”

Along with T.Y. Lin, Ned co-authored the textbook, "Design of Prestressed Concrete”, a source book in the industry for the analysis and design of prestressed structures for many decades. He was awarded the ACI Joe W. Kelly Award in recognition of his contribution to education and received the PCI Distinguished Professor Award in 2000. He is a fellow of the ACI, PCI and PTI and ASCE and was named Engineer of the Year by the Travis Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers in 2000.  Ned retired in 2001.

“Ned was a wonderful colleague,” said Department Chair Richard Corsi.  “He was both incredibly bright and a gentleman in the very truest sense of the word.  He will be missed.”

Ned and his wife Martha were married for 61 years and have three children. He was dedicated to his family and church and also enjoyed woodworking and furniture building. He loved to travel with Martha and enjoyed many trips to Peru, Brazil, Europe, China, Thailand, Japan, Hawaii and many other places in North America.