Ellingwood wins ASCE lifetime achievement award

Professor Emeritus Bruce Ellingwood

Professor Emeritus Bruce Ellingwood will receive a lifetime achievement award in March from the American Society of Civil Engineers for his contributions to engineering education.

The Outstanding Projects and Leaders awards honor the country’s most-accomplished civil engineers. Ellingwood won the 2017 award for education.

“This legacy we leave as educators is probably the most important thing we do,” Ellingwood told ASCE News. “I think it’s more important than specific papers and specific accomplishments. The fact that you’re leaving a legacy of people who will carry your approach to professional ethics and work — the people we influence are the most important.”

Ellingwood pioneered probability-based design standards for structures in his four-decade career. He joined the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty in 2000 and retired in 2013.

“Ellingwood’s research in the 1970s and 1980s contributed mightily to structural design criteria. He worked for the Naval Ship Research and Development Center and then 12 years for the National Bureau of Standards,” ASCE News associate editor Ben Walpole wrote in the announcement about Ellingwood receiving the OPAL award. “Today, structural reliability theory and practice are the foundations of risk-informed decision-making in structural engineering — thanks in large part to Ellingwood’s work.”

“I’ve had an excellent run, as they say. But I realize that there were a lot of people and students along the way who had a tremendous influence on how I approach my work,” Ellingwood told Walpole. “This hasn’t happened in a vacuum.

“Without the students I’ve had over the years, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”