Hardy Cross

Hardy Cross was born February 10th, 1885 on the family plantation in Nansemond County, near the Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia. Both Cross and his brother Tom Peete were both educated at the Norfolk Academy in Norfolk, VA. The brothers then both went on to Hampden-Sydney College where Cross received both B.A. and a B.S degrees in 1902 and 1903. Both of these degrees were awarded before his eighteenth birthday.

Hardy Cross
After graduation, Cross taught English and Mathematics for three years before going to MIT to receive a B.S in Civil Engineering after only two years of study. By 1911, Cross had moved on to Harvard University, where he received his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Cross soon moved on to teaching. His first appointment was at Brown University, where he served for seven years, between 1911-1918. Outside of the classroom he  served as a bridge engineer for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, worked with prominent consulting civil engineers that specialized in structural and hydraulic engineering. He also spent the year of 1920 as an assistant engineer for Charles T. Main.

Cross then came to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1921. He was replacing Charles Alton Ellis, who had resigned to design the Golden Gate Bridge. While at the University of Illinois, Cross advanced some of his most important work, including developing simplified methods of analysis by means of converging approximations. The most significant of these, the fixed-end moment distribution for analysis of continuous structures, greatly simplified the way stresses could be calculated. This method was published in 1930 and went on to be commonly called the Hardy Cross Method.

One of Cross's Many Papers on Structural Design, 1936.

As a teacher, Cross was a staunch supporter of oral examinations for candidate of advanced degrees, often leading discussions on the topic. Furthermore, he was very against educational inflation, once saying:

“A common characteristic of the campus inflationist is that he benefits from the inflation but pays for it not at all; he has bigger department, more courses, more contacts, without cost to himself: usually he hopes for more money for himself and certainly hopes for more influence. I here indict him as responsible for the penalties that others pay for inflation”.

Cross was on faculty at University of Illinois until 1937, when he went to Yale University to head and chair the Department of Civil Engineering. He remained at Yale until he retired in 1951. He and his wife Edythe moved to Virginia beach until their deaths, his in 1959 and hers in 1956. 

Also check out this blog post from the University Archives on Hardy Cross and his colleague and friend Thomas Clark Shedd.
Works Cited:

Cross, Hardy. (1937) “Educational Inflation”. Talk before Civil Engineering Section, Society for Promotion of Engineering Education. Cambridge, Mass.

Electrical and Civil Engineering Alumni. (1997). “What’s Bill Hall Doing With Hardy Cross’s Wallet?” ECE Alumni Piece. p. 23