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Frank McClintock, professor emeritus, alumnus, dies at 90

Frank Ambrose McClintock ’43, SM ’43
Frank Ambrose McClintock ’43, SM ’43

Frank Ambrose McClintock ’43, SM ’43, professor emeritus in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, died on Feb. 20, in the Briarwood Health Care facility in Needham, Mass. He was 90.

McClintock was born in 1921 in St. Paul, Minn., and earned his SB and SM degrees from MIT in 1943, and his PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 1950. He was named assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT in 1949; he was promoted to associate professor in 1955; and to full professor in 1959. He retired from the Institute in 1990, becoming a professor emeritus.

McClintock was a pioneer in melding of applied mechanics and materials science, and taught the material to MIT undergraduates. In 1966, he co-authored a book — still in print — on the subject, titled Mechanical Behavior of Materials, with Ali Argon. The book paralleled with McClintock's laboratory practice for students, where they explored the aspects of mechanical behavior phenomena through self-chosen projects.

His professional contributions revolutionized the understanding of the fracture process in engineering practice, by introducing a physical and mechanistic perspective emphasizing the plasticity aspects of ductile fracture and fatigue crack propagation.

His trendsetting publications — which continued strong until recent years — were recognized by a series of prestigious awards, including the James Clayton Prize in 1956 of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers of Britain; the Nadai Award and the Drucker Medal of the ASME; the Howe Medal of the ASM; the Griffith Medal of the European Structural Integrity Society; as well as numerous special recognitions for best papers. McClintock was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He was also a recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Glasgow.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary; a daughter, Martha, and her husband, Joel Charrow; his son, Roger, and his wife, Jane Jeffries; his son, David, and his wife, Nancy; and son, Richard; and five grandchildren.

Services will be held Saturday, Feb. 26, at 2 p.m. at the First Parish Meetinghouse in Concord, Mass., followed by a reception in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations in Frank McClintock’s name to the Ouray Trail Group, P.O. Box 50, Ouray, CO 81427 (

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