Jane S.C. Huang, 81, civil engineer, wrote software to design bridges

May 05, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Jane S.C. Huang, a retired civil engineer who wrote a computer software program that assisted engineers in the design of bridges, died Tuesday at the Brightwood Center in Lutherville from complications of colon cancer and a neurological disorder. She was 81.

Mrs. Huang was born Shao Chen Wu in Tien Tseng, China, the daughter of a civil engineer who helped design and build railroads in her native country.

She earned her bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1943 from National Yunnan University and began her engineering career with the Sze-Chuan Kumming Railway Bureau.

She later worked for the Hwa Fu Engineering and Construction Co. and was an instructor in the civil engineering department of National Yunnan University from 1945 to 1948.

In 1946, she married Pao C. Huang, also a civil engineer, and immigrated to Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1948. A year later, she earned a master's degree in civil engineering at the University of Michigan.

Mrs. Huang moved to Baltimore in 1954, the year she became a U.S. citizen. She took several years off to raise her family before resuming her career as an engineer at J.L. Fasaint & Associates and later Green Associates Inc. in Baltimore.

In 1968, she joined Century Engineering Inc. in Towson, where she designed bridges and also developed a computer software program that enabled civil engineers to formulate intricate design plans for bridges on the computer rather than paper.

Richard Reikenis, a civil engineer who worked with her and is retired from the firm, described her as a "very bright and talented engineer" who was "well-liked and an extremely hard worker."

"She also developed lots of high-quality computer programs and software, but this was predominantly in the field of the design of bridges. You can't write a program unless you understand the subject, and she knew bridge design," he said.

"She designed bridges that were built on I-95, the Kennedy Expressway, I-70, as well as in Howard, Garrett and Allegany counties," said Mr. Reikenis, who lives in Phoenix, Baltimore County.

In 1960, Mrs. Huang became one of the first women to be a licensed professional engineer in Maryland, family members said. She was chief of the company's computer division when she retired in 1986.

Mrs. Hunag enjoyed sewing and made many of her clothes. She also liked knitting, crafts, gardening and gourmet cooking.

"She cooked the most exquisite Chinese dishes," said co-worker Helen M. Regnier of Ruxton.

"You would go to her home and she would have prepared 10 different gourmet Chinese dishes, many of which you couldn't get in a restaurant. In addition to her own native food, she loved pizza," Mrs. Regnier said.

Services are private.

In addition to her husband, survivors include two sons, David Huang of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Donald Huang of Newark, Del.; a daughter, Diana Huang of Chicago; two brothers, George Wu of Madison, Wis., and Shang Yuan Wu of Kunming, China; a sister, Chen Juan Wu of Beijing; and two grandchildren.

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