Next week, on Oct. 14-15, 2010, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will celebrate the 175th anniversary of civil engineering at the university. The festivities, taking place as part of Reunion and Homecoming weekend, will look back at the world-changing innovations of the Institute’s civil engineering graduates and faculty, and look forward to the future challenges awaiting today’s civil engineering students.
“Rensselaer has always been ahead of the pack. Its leaders have always been able to foresee the needs of the nation and world, and create programs to give students the knowledge and tools to solve these problems looming beyond the horizon,” said Tarek Abdoun ’97, professor and acting department head of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Civil engineering is no exception. From Washington Roebling, Class of 1857, engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, to George Ferris, Class of 1881, inventor of the Ferris wheel, to our current students, Rensselaer has made an immeasurable impact on the history of humanity.”
As part of the celebration weekend, the 175th Anniversary of Civil Engineering Colloquy will take place at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in the concert hall of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). Titled “The Civil Engineering Revival: Challenges, Grand Challenges, and Champions,” the colloquy will feature President Shirley Ann Jackson, NAE, and G. Wayne Clough, NAE, 12th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and president emeritus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dean of Engineering David Rosowsky will introduce the colloquy, and Kathy Caldwell, national president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), will give a special presentation following the colloquy.
David Billington, NAE, one of the world’s foremost civil engineering experts, will deliver the keynote address at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in EMPAC’s Goodman Studio 1. Billington is the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University. His keynote address, “Building the United States 1835-2010: Bridges, Dams, and Civil Engineering Education,” will explore the history of civil engineering at Rensselaer and look in-depth at the construction and impact of many major works by several storied Institute graduates.
At 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, the School of Engineering will present the prestigious 2010 Davies Medal Award to James Mitchell ’51, NAE. In his presentation, “Soil Mechanics to Geotechnical Engineering: 60 Years in the Evolution of a Discipline,” Mitchell will explore how geotechnical engineering plays a vital role in solving present and future problems in both constructed and natural environments. Also on Oct. 14, the Folsom Library will hold a reception for its latest art exhibit, Re-Inspired, An Artistic Navigation of the Erie Canal, which combines engineering and art into a creative account of the development of the Erie Canal.
Abdoun will deliver his State of the Department Address at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in EMPAC’s Goodman Studio 1. He will illustrate research projects led by Rensselaer faculty and students that are reshaping the field and practice of civil engineering.
Other events on Friday, Oct. 15 include:
Attendance for civil engineering celebration weekend events is open and encouraged for all members of the Rensselaer community.
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