A Celebration 150 Years in the Making


On April 1 and 2, 2016, the department of civil and environmental engineering will celebrate the Lehigh sesquicentennial with a series of events looking at the future of civil and environmental engineering and the university's key role in that future.

The sesquicentennial is a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lehigh's founding. Festivities began on October 2, 2015, with the installation of the university's 14th president, John Simon, and will continue through commencement on May 23, 2016.

Civil engineering was a key discipline at the university from a very early stage. Many of the university's most historic figures like Donald B. Stabler and Howard McClintic and Charles Marshall were professional civil engineers, and the construction of the world-renowned Fritz Laboratory in 1909 further cemented the discipline's role in Lehigh's academic mission.

As the years went on, both Lehigh's and the department's eye was always on the future. In 1989, the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center opened and exponentially expanded the university's research footprint. In the 1990s, the department's reach expanded to accommodate a new program of study environmental engineering, which found a new home in the state-of-the-art STEPS building in 2010.

Richard Weisman, professor of water resources engineering, is the chairman of the committee to plan CEE's sesquicentennial event. About the event, he said, "More than anything, the 150th event will be like a family gathering because all of us faculty, staff, students, alumni we're like a small family within the much larger Lehigh community. And just look at where we've come and where we're headed: We have a lot to celebrate together."

The event will kick off Friday evening with a keynote address from Dr. Craig Benson '89, the Dean of the University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, on the future of civil and environmental engineering. Following Benson's address, dinner will be served on the floor of Fritz Lab for registered engineers, alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Friday will also mark the first time the department has given out the Lynn S. Beedle Distinguished Civil and Environmental Engineering Award in nearly a decade. The award is named after Lynn Beedle, distinguished professor of civil engineering at Lehigh and founder of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, who died in 2003 after a Lehigh career that spanned six decades, and is given to a graduate or faculty member in the department for outstanding achievements in civil or environmental engineering. Beedle himself was the first recipient. Other past recipients include George C. Lee, George J. Tamaro, Anthony G. Collins, and John W. Fisher. This year's recipient will be Dr. Theodore V. Galambos '59 Ph.D., a member of the National Academy of Engineering and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

Saturday will start with tours of the STEPS and ATLSS research facilities. At 10 a.m., Mark Sarkisian '85G, Seismic and Structural Engineering Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will lead a panel to discuss the future of civil engineering in practice alongside Michael Semeraro '79, Managing Principal at Langan; Daniel Zarrilli '97, Director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of New York; and Bethany Malusa '09, Project Engineer at Alfred Benesch & Company.

After a light lunch in Fritz Lab where students will present posters of their work and guests can tour the historic engineering landmark, we will reconvene at 1 p.m. for a second panel discussion on the future of civil and environmental engineering education. Col. Stephen J. Ressler, professor emeritus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, will lead the discussion alonside Dr. Larry A. Fahenstock '98G '06 Ph.D., associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Tara Troy '01, assistant professor of water resources engineerg at Lehigh University; and Dr. Jeffrey Evans '84 Ph.D., Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Bucknell University.

Please stay tuned to the department's homepage and Facebook page for updates on the event, as well as information on how to register, and for more information on the Lehigh sesquicentennial, click here.

By John Gilpatrick

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