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In memoriam: P. Aarne Vesilind ’62 ’64G

Proud Lehigh alum and environmental engineering pioneer dies at 78

Dr. P. Aarne Vesilind, an alumnus of Lehigh University and pioneer in academic and industrial research in environmental engineering, passed away due to complications from cancer on January 28, 2018.

Vesilind, who earned both B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from Lehigh, went on to earn another Master’s as well as a Ph.D. from University of North Carolina. Much of his career in academia was spent as a professor with Duke University, and later with Bucknell University. He also served as Trustee of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, President of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, and as a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“I had the opportunity to meet Aarne for the first time about twenty years ago, while I was a faculty member at Virginia Tech,” recalls Panos Diplas, chair of civil and environmental engineering at Lehigh University. “He was a frequent visitor there to give seminars in environmental engineering. A very interesting guy, very energetic and enthusiastic about his work, a curious mind with a wide range of interests—kind of an old school academic. About 3 years ago I met him once more, this time at Lehigh, where he was invited to give a seminar about ‘peace engineering.’ Quite a scholar and a good man; he will be missed.”

Vesilind received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including the Collingwood Prize and the Award for Achievement in Environmental Education from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He also received the Founders Award and Distinguished Service award (twice!) from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. He was most proud of his teaching awards, however, which include the E. I. Brown Award for teaching excellence (four times!) from students in Duke’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Tau Beta Pi teaching award from students of the Duke School of Engineering.

For more, read Dr. Vesilind’s obituary in the New Hampshire Valley News.

February 9, 2018

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