Rensselaer To Celebrate 175 Years of Civil Engineering with Festivities, Colloquy
October 6, 2010
Graduates of Nation’s First Civil Engineering
Degree Program Built the Brooklyn Bridge, Ferris Wheel, Yankee
Stadium, and Other Historic Feats of Engineering;
Smithsonian Institution Secretary G. Wayne Clough Among Noted Speakers at Celebration
|(top l-r) G. Wayne Clough, 12th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; David Billington, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University; (bottom l-r) Kathy Caldwell, national president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers; 2010 Davies Medal Award recipient James Mitchell ’51|
On October 14, 1835, scientist and educator Amos Eaton posted a notice informing faculty and students at the fledgling Rensselaer Institute about the awarding of a new degree: civil engineering. It was the first civil engineering degree awarded in the United States.
Next week, on Oct. 14-15, 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 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, Class of 1997, professor and acting department head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer. “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 Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson and G. Wayne Clough, 12th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and president emeritus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dean of Engineering David V. Rosowsky will introduce the colloquy, and Kathy J. Caldwell, national president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), will give a special presentation following the colloquy.
David P. Billington, 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.
Attendance for the colloquy and keynote address are free and open to the public. Register and RSVP online at: http://alumni.rpi.edu/reunion.
At 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, Rensselaer’s School of Engineering will present the prestigious 2010 Davies Medal Award to James K. Mitchell ’51. 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 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, in EMPAC’s Goodman Studio 1. He will discuss research projects led by Rensselaer faculty and students that are reshaping the field and practice of civil engineering.
Other events open to the public on Friday, Oct. 15 include:
- Breakfast and student poster session | 8-9 a.m. | Evelyn’s Café, EMPAC
- Open House/Lab Tours | 1 p.m. | Jonsson Engineering Center (JEC)
See the full schedule of events at: http://eng.rpi.edu/175.
See Amos Eaton’s 1835 Notice of the Civil Engineering Degree at: http://www.lib.rpi.edu/dept/library/html/Archives/early_documents/ce_notice.html.
Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161