Gyan N Pande was born and educated in India obtaining a BTech degree in Civil Engineering from the India Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in 1959. He developed an early interest in geomechanics having gained over 10 years’ experience as a project engineer in tunnelling and hydroelectric installations in the Himalayas. He joined Swansea University in 1973 after which he gained a PhD in computational geomechanics and then joined the academic staff in Civil Engineering in 1976. Gyan gained a personal chair in the department in 1994 and was also awarded a DSc from the University of Wales in the same year. He was a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and was Chairman of both the Ground Engineering Group of ICE, Wales Branch and the International Committee of Computational Modelling in Structural Masonry.
His research interests were in computational geomechanics and encompassed development of constitutive models, modelling of hydraulic properties of geomaterials, mechanics of unsaturated soils constitutive models for geomaterials, liquefaction, cyclic and transient loading, multi-laminate models for soil, as well as homogenisation techniques applied to structural masonry. This research had high impact and many of these models were incorporated in commercial codes worldwide. In the early 2000s, Gyan started working in the area of artificial intelligence (AI). This was way ahead of its time in 2004. While it had received very limited attention at that time, we can now clearly see that AI and data are currently very much the driving force in many research areas.
Gyan’s output is evidenced in the 250 research papers and books that he published. Having overarched engineering practice and computational geomechanics, Gyan also made a significant contribution through co-organizing and co-chairing a series of international symposia NUMOG (Numerical Models in Geomechanics) and their sequel ComGeo (Computational Geomechanics). These symposia were held on 14 occasions and its delegates included world-renowned researchers in geomechanics from both commercial organisations and academe.
In 2005 he was awarded the Manby prize from the Institution of Civil Engineers for his contribution to Geographical and Communications Technology. He was the recipient of the special achievements award of the ‘International Association of Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics’ in 2014 and was awarded the best publication prize from the same organisation in 2001 and 2002. He was a member of many research organisations such as the British Masonry Society, Chair of the EU based research committee of the International Laboratory of Experts on Materials (RILEM) for computer modelling of the mechanical behaviour of masonry structures, as well as an editorial board member of many international journals.
As a result of his research impact Gyan formed many international links including long term relationships with colleagues at the University of McMaster in Canada and the University of Graz in Austria. He supervised numerous PhD students from around the world and many of these have kept in touch with him throughout his lifetime. He was well known for holding meetings on a Friday afternoon where the research group would discuss topics of interest and generate new ideas. Gyan was an excellent geomechanics teacher. We had a pleasure of sharing some of the civil engineering teaching with him. He was a most sincere person, an excellent mentor and quickly generated a special rapport within his research group. These relationships left an indelible mark on friends and colleagues alike and this will last well into the future.
Gyan’s contribution, direction and impact in computational geomechanics are recognised internationally and his passing will be mourned by the many that he influenced in this area. Gyan passed away on the 20th January and is survived by his wife Geeta, his daughter Arty and sons Ajay and Anil. He will be greatly missed by his family and academic colleagues alike.
John Middleton (former academic staff member, Department of Civil Engineering, Swansea University)
Perumal Nithiarasu, Director of Research, College of Engineering, Swansea University