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John Swanson '61 ME

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Dorothy Swanson was the mother of Dr. John Swanson '61 ME, founder and chief technologist of ANSYS, Inc. until his retirement in March 1999. He is internationally recognized as an authority and innovator in the application of finite-element methods to engineering. Dr. Swanson founded ANSYS, Inc. in 1970 to develop, support, and market the ANSYS program, a finite-element software code used widely in the computer-aided engineering industry.

The Dorothy G. Swanson Award will stand in perpetuity as a tribute to John Swanson’s innovative career as an entrepreneur, his dedication to Cornell University, and his gratitude for his mother’s inspiration.

Prior to founding ANSYS, Inc., he was employed at Westinghouse Astronuclear Laboratory in the stress analysis group. While at Westinghouse, Dr. Swanson recognized that companies could save significant time and money if they used an integrated, general-purpose, finite-element software code to do the complex calculations that engineers were doing manually.

Dr. Swanson received the John Fritz Medal in 2004 from the American Association of Engineering Societies. This medal is referred to as the highest award in the engineering profession. In February 2009, Dr. Swanson was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor bestowed in the field of engineering.

Dr. Swanson holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. He also holds a Ph.D. in applied mechanics from the University of Pittsburgh. John Swanson is a foremost benefactor of Cornell University. His generous gifts to the College of Engineering include endowments for the Swanson Fund for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and the Director of the Swanson Laboratory for Engineering Simulation in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He also made two significant gifts in support of the Duffield Hall project, where an atrium was named in recognition of his support as well as the directorship, which he endowed. Dr. Swanson has generously supported the Department of Biomedical Engineering—the Swanson Laboratory Suite in Weill Hall is named for him, and he has endowed a professorship, lectureship, and graduate fellowship in BME.