Ronald Laird Bagley, retired UTSA professor of mechanical engineering, died May 4 at the age of 69.
Bagley joined UTSA in 1995 after retiring as Colonel following a 24-year career in the U.S. Air Force.
His research focused primarily on the application of fractional calculus to analyze the viscoelasticity of materials and assist with vibration damping. His work has allowed engineers to more accurately measure and predict the stress on and subsequent deformation of materials, particularly metals and alloys. Practically applied, his patented work has helped reduce deterioration caused by vibrations in turbomachinery, such as jet engine blades. His top five papers have been cited in other published works more than 4,000 times; a remarkable achievement.
Bagley was a dedicated teacher who believed his students should ascend to their highest level of academic achievement. He taught numerous courses in mechanical engineering but his primary teaching focus was on vibrations and mathematics.
“For many years Ron oversaw the Engineering Analysis course, elevating it to a cohesive organized unit with multiple faculty and common exams which resulted in an extraordinary improvement in student passing rates over the past decade – a legacy we should all aspire to,” said colleague and former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Harry Millwater. “
“Ron’s ability to manage, coordinate, and teach various courses in mechanical engineering was respected by his colleagues,” shared close friend and fellow UTSA mechanical engineering faculty member Jack Simonis. “Ron never lost his enthusiasm for teaching and reveling in the accomplishments of the many students whose lives he touched during his career at UTSA.”
“I always enjoyed the many lunch meetings I had with Ron where he shared stories about family, life in the Air Force, and his insight for engaging and encouraging students to seek a higher level,” shared friend and fellow UTSA mechanical engineering faculty member Jim Johnson.
As chair of master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation committees, Bagley spent many hours advising and working alongside his students who were focused on expanding and implementing the use of fractional calculus to explain phenomenon related to energy dissipation.
Bagley retired in 2015 after 20 years of service to UTSA.
“It is always sad when we lose a member of the UTSA College of Engineering family, and Dr. Bagley was a greatly-admired colleague, mentor, and friend,” shared JoAnn Browning, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
In his memory, the UTSA Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs has arranged for the book “Advanced Dynamics of Mechanical Systems” by authors Federico Cheli and Giorgio Diana to be donated to the UTSA Libraries.
— KC Gonzalez, Office of Academic & Faculty Support