Alumni Hall of Fame

Walter E. Irving
Walter E. Irving
Inducted September 2003

Walter E. Irving

Class of 1896
Engineer, Inventor, Manager
1874-1958

Showing the ingenuity that would propel his career, Walter Irving creatively mortgaged his horse to raise tuition money to attend Rensselaer. He founded in 1902 what was to become the Irving Subway Grating Co., which perfected open steel grating, first used for subway ventilating chambers.

Since then his open steel flooring has been used on bridge decks, catwalks, loading platforms, railroad cars, and in thousands of other industrial applications. Each has dramatically improved safety.

He was honored by the armed forces during World War II for his creation of airfield mats, known as “magic carpets,” which provided emergency landing fields quickly and could be easily camouflaged. He introduced the “Streamline Splice,” which enabled open steel flooring to be laid in one piece no matter how large the area.

Irving actively promoted alumni activities, served as chair of the first Rensselaer Fund, and established the Irving Subway Grating Scholarships at Rensselaer, which continue today.