ASCE Announces 2015 Distinguished Lecture Series Speakers

May 28, 2015

Civil engineers from around the world will come to New York City Oct. 11-14 for the ASCE 2015 Convention, and excitement is building for the opportunity to hear from a variety of thought-provoking speakers.

Three of these thought leaders will appear in ASCE’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Back by popular demand, the series features three notable authors who will take the stage to present informative sessions followed by book signings. Each year, these sessions are standing room only, and attendees say they are among the most valuable parts of the meeting and that many interesting conversations are sparked. Want to know what is in store for convention attendees? Keep reading for links to excerpts of each author’s work.

The 2015 Distinguished Lecture Series is part of the new convention format that explores topics related to the state of the industry and the profession, educational training, cross-discipline technical sessions, ASCE disaster response teams, ASCE’s strategic issues and public policy, significant engineering projects, and civil engineering history and heritage.

The 2015 lecturers are:
Robert HoeksemaRobert J. Hoeksema, Ph.D., M.ASCE – Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands

Water management and flood mitigation has challenged civil engineers for centuries, and while much is known, there is much to be learned. Robert J. Hoeksema tackles the ebb and flow of this issue in his seminal work Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands. This watershed book tells the entire story of the history of Dutch flood protection and land reclamation from dwelling mounds constructed as early as 500 B.C. to large storm surge barriers completed at the end of the 20th century. In addition to providing historic and technical background, the book includes excursion guide details for readers interested in seeing many of the places Hoeksema describes. Understanding the themes of water management in the Netherlands gives civil engineers in every location a solid grounding in geostatistics and groundwater. Chapter 1 of Designed for Dry Feet is available here.

Winner of the 2008 ASCE Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award, Hoeksema is a civil engineer with interests in hydraulics, hydrology, and water resources and a professor at Calvin College. He has written several publications and gives frequent talks on the history of flood protection and land reclamation in the Netherlands.


SayenaDonald Sayenga – Washington Roebling’s Father: A Memoir of John A. Roebling

All civil engineers know of the legendary Roebling family, but do you know how family dynamics shaped their contributions to the field? Consultant, author, researcher, and historian Donald Sayenga unravels the complicated, intricate web woven by these driven, innovative, and difficult people in his landmark book, Washington Roebling’s Father: A Memoir of John A. Roebling. The Roeblings’ wire rope is still at work in today’s suspension bridges, high-rise elevators, construction cranes, and cable cars, and Sayenga gives us key insight into this family’s contributions to civil engineering. You can start learning about this interesting family by reading Chapter 5 of the book.

Sayenga is widely known for his expertise in wire rope. He has led many wire industry organizations, and he served as general manager of Bethlehem Steel’s wire rope division, which acquired the Roebling trade name in 1973. Author of more than 100 historical articles, Sayenga is historian for the Wire Association International and the Associated Wire Rope Fabricators. In 2001, he received the Mordica Medal for his efforts to document the world history of wire, and in 2010 he received the History and Heritage Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for Washington Roebling’s Father: A Memoir of John A. Roebling.


Richard ScottRichard Scott – In the Wake of Tacoma: Suspension Bridges and the Quest for Aerodynamic Stability

What’s the best form for long-span bridges? Is it the suspension bridge, the cable-stayed bridge – or something new that will evolve as we understand more about bridge aerodynamics? And how are these technologies tied to the work of master-builder John Roebling more than 150 years ago?

Analysis of key collapses gives insight into effective design, and Richard Scott’s In the Wake of Tacoma: Suspension Bridges and the Quest for Aerodynamic Stability gives civil engineers a comprehensive reference work on suspension bridges by looking into the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. Scott is a senior planner with Parks Canada and the planner for the new Rouge National Urban Park initiative. Previously, he was senior planner for Parks Canada’s Trent-Severn Waterway and served on the secretariat of the Panel on the Future of the Trent-Severn Waterway. Before that he worked with the National Capital Commission in Ottawa, primarily as planner for the National Capital Greenbelt. He is also the editor of History of the Modern Suspension Bridge: Solving the Dilemma between Economy and Stiffness (ASCE Press, 2010). Take a look at Chapter 1 of In the Wake of Tacoma to get a preview of Scott’s work.

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