In Remembrance of George W. Housner

George W. Housner

Dr. George W. Housner, notable professor of earthquake engineering at Caltech, passed away on November 10, 2008. Dr. Housner pioneered many of the important concepts in modern earthquake engineering, including the development of the response spectrum as an engineering tool, the probabilistic estimation of earthquake risk, the mathematical modeling of strong ground motion and the analysis of the nonlinear response of structures. He was also a leader in the development, deployment and use of strong motion instrumentation and in the development of shaking machines for measuring the dynamic properties of buildings, dams and other structures.

Dr. Housner joined Caltech's faculty in 1945, after earning his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Caltech. He was named Braun Professor of Engineering in 1974, and Braun Professor Emeritus in 1981.

As a consultant and advisor he contributed to the earthquake safety of the California Water Project, the California Bay Area Rapid Transit system, tall buildings, nuclear power plants and offshore drilling platforms. His professional and public service included president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and of the Seismological Society of America, chairman of the National Research Council's Committee on Earthquake Engineering Research and chairman of the California Governor's Board of Inquiry on the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

His work has been recognized by many awards and honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering and to the National Academy of Science, and being awarded the Founders Award of the National Academy of Engineering and the Presidential Medal of Science by President Ronald Reagan for "his profound and decisive influence on the development of earthquake engineering worldwide." Most recently he was honored as a Legend of Earthquake Engineering at the 14 World Conference of Earthquake Engineering.

Few individuals have influenced their field of activity to the extent that George Housner developed, molded, and led earthquake engineering.


posted November 17, 2008