Richard Howard Lance

Professor Emeritus (1998), Cornell University, College of Engineering,Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

453 Egret Court, Chestertown, MD, 21620 ; 410 810 4772;

B.S.M.E. 1954 (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
M.S.M.E. 1957 (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Ph.D. 1962 (Brown University)


After receiving his bachelor's degree, Lance worked for a year as a test engineer for Minneapolis Honeywell (now Honeywell), in Minneapolis MN, and then served for just under two years as an enlisted man in the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged early in order to pursue an advanced degree at Illinois Tech.  After receiving his master's degree, he was employed for a year at the Ingersoll Milling Machine Company, Rockford IL, as an analytical engineer. He left the Ingersoll company to continue advanced study, with the support of a fellowship from the Ingersoll Milling Machine Company, at Brown University in Providence. In 1962, following a six-month appointment as research associate in engineering at Brown University, and receipt of the PhD, Lance joined the Cornell faculty. At Cornell he has been on the staff of the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, twice serving as acting chairman. He was the associate dean of engineering for external affairs from 1974 to 1980, and the associate dean of engineering for undergraduate programs from 1981 to 1986. While on sabbatical leaves, Lance has been a visiting professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Edinburgh, and a senior scientist at Hughes Aircraft Company. He has also been a consultant to the IBM Corporation. He has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi.

Research Interests

At Brown University and during his 36 years at Cornell, Lance and his graduate students focussed their research on the mechanical behavior of solids, particularly the non-elastic behavior. All engineering materials behave inelastically, i.e., their response to mechanical and thermal loads always leads to some permanent change in shape. In the design of critical structural components such as high-temperature piping and blades and rotors for turbines, permanent (nonelastic) deformations can lead to failure through rupture, low-cycle fatigue, or mechanical interference. On the other hand, most manufacturing processes involving metals and polymers depend on the material's inelastic properties; permanent deformation is a desired quality. It is the job of research engineers who study the mechanics of solids to determine the fundamental laws of material behavior-constitutive relations, in the jargon of the theoretical mechanics community-and build such laws into models of material behavior, and ultimately into the codes that guide designers.

His research was concerned with the analysis and experimental verification of the applications of proposed constitutive (stress-strain) laws to structures. One of the more recent efforts has been to conduct small-scale tests of beams and plates subjected to long-term loading in a high-temperature environment in an effort to establish the validity of stress-strain creep laws proposed by materials specialists.  Such tests were accompanied by experiments, with the development of computer models for efficient, accurate calculation of mechanical effects.

Another area of mechanics that he has studied is residual stress and its relation to the transmission speeds of ultrasonic stress waves through a metallic part. Residual stress can arise in manufacturing and assembly, and can be beneficial or detrimental to the mechanical part's service life. To be fully effective, nondestructive-test (NDT) methods for quality testing, involving stress waves at ultrasonic frequencies, must be devised to detect residual stress. This research was directed at devising known residual stress states, in shrink-fit assemblies, which can be used as "gauges" for residual-stress measurement techniques using nondestructive testing.

In response to recent industrial interest in advanced composite materials, he has also looked at NDT (Non-destructive testing) methods of residual-stress detection in such materials, and to the dynamical behavior of composite plates and beams that are delaminated because of fabrication errors or in-service damage.

Educational Interests

Lance's pedagogical interests included the development of multimedia teaching materials for courses for freshman engineers, a Web resource for students in the sophomore engineering courses, and international programs of study for engineering and science students. In the Engineering Study-Abroad Program, which he developed in 1992 with the help of the Study Abroad offices at Cornell, engineering sophomores spend one semester in Hamburg, Germany, studying engineering, language, and culture. They also visited a variety of European industries in a sequence of twelve field trips. In the EAGLE program, a consortium of fifteen universities supported the study of Japanese, in Japan, each summer, by about sixty undergraduate engineering students.

After he retired, and moved to Chestertown MD, Lance continued to focus his intellectual activities on teaching, as outlined below.

Recent Activities

In June 1998 Lance retired from the Cornell faculty and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Engineering (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics).  He and his wife, Virginia, then moved to Chestertown MD, where they took up residence at Heron Point, a Continuous Care Retirement Center.  In October 1998, he and his wife left for a year's stay in Hamburg, Germany, where Lance took an appointment as visiting professor at the Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg.  His responsibility there was to teach mechanics, in English, to first-year engineering science students.  The one-year term also gave them the opportunity to travel in Europe and revisit some of the places in and around Hamburg that they became acquainted with in 1994, when Lance was professor in residence for the Cornell Engineering Program in Hamburg.

After moving to Chestertown, Lance continues to teach when the opportunities arise.  In spring 2004 he was appointed visiting professor in the physics department of Washington College, in Chestertown, with responsibility for teaching Physics 100, a first course for non-majors. He also returned to Ithaca during two Summer Sessions where he led the Explorations in Engineering, for the last time in 2001.  During one summer session he also taught Math 293, Mathematics for Engineers, sharing an office with Edmund Cranch (deceased), former Dean of Engineering at Cornell.

He has also been closely associated with the Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning, a college-affiliated program of short courses for mature residents of Chestertown and surrounding areas.  He served two years as Chair of the Council of the Academy, and he has taught regularly in the Academy's spring and fall offerings.  He has concentrated in 'technological' areas of study, including courses in 'engineering for non-engineers' - Why Things Don't Fall Down is one example.  Building on his experience as an amateur photographer, Lance regularly teaches courses in digital photography, covering both technical and aesthetic aspects.  And, building on his many years of experience in using a computer, he offers short courses on the Windows OS and associated, popular applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and web page design and management.  He currently leads the discussions of the use of Apple devices: iPad, iPhone and MacBooks.


Undergraduate Teaching at Cornell - numbering system in the 1990s
    ENGRD 202 - Mechanics of Solids  - Strength of Materials
    ENGRD 203 Dynamics 
    MATH 293 Differential Equations for Engineers
    MATH 294 Linear Algebra for Engineers
    T&AM 310 Introduction to Applied Mathematics I -
    ENGR 115 (no longer listed in the catalog) Engineering and Society - the history of the Industrial Revolution, including studies of the steam engine, water power and communications systems, based on the works of Prof. David Billington, Princeton University.

Undergraduate Educational Initiatives at Cornell
Generally responsible for the design and implementation of:
ENGRG 150 Engineering Seminar
First-year engineering students meet in groups of 18 to 20 students weekly with their faculty advisors. Discussions may include the engineering curriculum and student programs, what engineers do, the character of engineering careers, active research areas in the college and in engineering in general, and study and examination skills useful for engineering students. Groups may visit campus academic, engineering, and research facilities.

Engineering Study Abroad
Initiated and managed a one-semester study abroad experience for engineering sophomores in Hamburg, Germany at the Technische Universität Hamburg- Harburg.  Fall 1995, 6 and 7.  Courses taught in English, by German faculty members; field trips to 10 European industrial sites.  Language study.  Living with German families.  A Cornell engineering faculty member appointed as Faculty Director in Residence each year. 

Teaching at Technische Universität Hamburg- Harburg, October 1998 to July 1999
    Mechanics of Solids - similar to ENGRD 202 at Cornell - in English
    Dynamics - similar to ENGRD 203 at Cornell - in English

Teaching at Washington College, Chestertown, Md
    Spring 2004
    Physics 100 similar to PHYS 102, UVa - Concepts of Physics

Teaching in the Washington College - Academy of Lifelong Learning
Six-week short courses
    Windows XP for beginners
    Windows XP for intermediate users
    Digital Photography for beginners
    Digital Photography for intermediate digital camera users
    Nature Photography Roundtable - for advanced amateurs
    Why Things Don't Fall Down - non-mathematical approach to engineering principles
    The Bridges of Kent County - survey of the bridge types in Kent County, MD, and design principles
    A Gentle Introduction to Digital Image Editing - including use of Picasa, Pixlr, Gimp, iPhoto, and Photoshop Elements

Undergraduate Textbook Responsibility
2002-3 - Co-author of the Solutions Manual for the engineering undergraduate text books: Vector Mechanics for Engineers: Statics and and Vector Mechanics for Engineers: Dynamics, Seventh Edition, McGraw-Hill

Additional interests and skills
        Familiar with and generally skilled in the use of:
            Word, Excel, PowerPoint
            Photoshop Elements, Apple Aperture, iPhoto and other Apple software
            Filemaker Pro and similar database programs
        Owner and user of Canon Digital SLR Cameras and lenses
        Exhibited photographs in a variety of local art shows
    Manual skill
        Experienced blacksmith

December 2015