American Philosophical Society
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103. Engineering[X]
1Name:  Dr. Henry Petroski
 Institution:  Duke University
 Year Elected:  2006
 Class:  1. Mathematical and Physical Sciences
 Subdivision:  103. Engineering
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1942
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. He is a graduate of Manhattan College, having earned his B.M.E. degree in 1963, and of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he received his Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics in 1968. Before joining the Duke faculty in 1980, he taught at the University of Texas, Austin and served on the professional staff of Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Petroski, who has been called "the poet laureate of technology," has written broadly on the topics of design, success and failure, and the history of engineering and technology. His books on these subjects, which are intended for professional engineers, students, and general readers alike, include To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, which in 1987 was adapted for a BBC-television documentary; Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering, which was named by the Association of American Publishers as the best general engineering book published in 1994; and Success Through Failure: The Paradox of Design, which was based on his 2004 Louis Clark Vanuxem Lectures at Princeton University. His Engineers of Dreams is a history of American bridge building. He has also written on commonplace objects in The Pencil; The Evolution of Useful Things; The Book on the Bookshelf; Small Things Considered; and The Toothpick, and has published collections of essays on engineering subjects under the titles Remaking the World and Pushing the Limits. His memoir about delivering newspapers in the 1950s and about what predisposed him to become an engineer is entitled Paperboy. Since 1991, he has written the engineering column in the bimonthly magazine American Scientist, and he also writes a column on the engineering profession for ASEE Prism. He is a professional engineer licensed in Texas and a chartered engineer registered in Ireland. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Humanities Center. Among his other honors are the Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers, the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, whose history and heritage committee he now chairs. He holds honorary degrees from Clarkson University, Manhattan College, Trinity College (in Hartford, Conn.), and Valparaiso University, and has received distinguished engineering alumnus awards from Manhattan College and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is an honorary member of the Moles and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2006.
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