Professor Emeritus Stephen A. Mahin passed away

Featured Faculty: Stephen A. Mahin


Stephen A. Mahin, the Byron L. and Elvira E. Nishkian Professor Emeritus of Structural Engineering passed away on Feb. 10, 2018.  He was 71.

Steve was a world-renowned expert in earthquake engineering, with wide-ranging teaching, research, and professional practice contributions in characterization of earthquake strong ground motion; numerical modeling, simulation, and innovative structural testing methods for severe loading environments; earthquake-protective systems; behavior and design of structural steel, reinforced concrete, and timber construction with applications in buildings, bridges, power plants, and offshore structures; and performance-based earthquake engineering.

Professor Mahin was born in Lodi, California and attended K-12 school in Pacific Grove California. He started undergraduate studies in Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964, eventually earning his BS (1968), MS (1970), and PhD (1974). He joined the faculty at Berkeley as Assistant Professor in 1977.

At Berkeley, he served as the Chair of the Structural Engineering, Mechanics, and Materials (SEMM) Program (1990-1993), Director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center (2009-2015), and Director of the NSF Simulation Center of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (2016-present).

Steve received the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 for innovative research related to the seismic behavior of conventional and buckling restrained braced frames as well as moment frame structures. His research to improve the performance of steel structures included use of seismic isolation and supplemental energy dissipation devices. 

He served as program manager for the SAC Steel Project that developed guidelines for the design of steel moment frame structures following the Northridge earthquake and has served as chair of several US-Japan cooperative research programs related to steel structures.  

In 2014, Tongji University of Shanghai, China named Steve a Master Academician, a title is given to the top 100 professors internationally in all fields of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

In 2016, Steve became the founding Director of the Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (SimCenter) of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure, funded by the National Science Foundation. Under his visionary leadership, the SimCenter assembled a talented multi-university team of researchers to advance simulation methods to reduce effects of natural hazards on the built environment, with the ultimate aim to inform decision making to improve community resilience to earthquakes, storms, and other extreme hazards. 

Steve Mahin's life includes many achievements, and the list would not be complete without mentioning his sons, Jeff and Colin, two fine men prominent in Steve's life and heart, and of whom he was very proud.

During his nearly 50-year career at Berkeley and with international activities, Professor Mahin taught, advised, and mentored generations of students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and colleagues, and practicing engineers. His broad range of interests also engaged social scientists and stakeholders. His creative approach, collaborative spirit, and enthusiastic generosity in sharing his prolific ideas have inspired everyone who has spent time with him, and he will leave his mark on the profession for years to come.

Condolences to Stephen Mahin's family may be posted to

For more information on Professor Mahin's life and achievements see:

Stephen A. Mahin — October 16, 1946 — February 10, 2018 (CEE obituary)

Stephen A. Mahin — February 9, 2018 (Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center news)

Published 02/12/2018