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admin | Created: 01 Jun 2015 | Updated: 22 Feb 2018
People in Geoprofession

Fred H. Kulhawy, PhD, PE, GE, F.ASCE, passed away on May 12, 2015, in Ithaca, NY. He was known around the world for his research, project consulting, and academic achievements.

Dr. Kulhawy was born in Topeka, KS, and grew up in New Jersey, where he received his bachelor’s and then master’s degrees from Newark College of Engineering (NCE). In 1969, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley; his dissertation was one of the very early applications of finite elements in nonlinear geotechnical construction problems. After completing his PhD, he joined the faculty at Syracuse University. In 1976, he moved to Cornell University.

While he was completing his graduate work, Dr. Kulhawy worked as a project engineer with Storch Engineers, where he worked on projects including the foundations for the Boston Aquarium, rehabilitation of portions of the Jefferson Memorial, and embankments and bridge foundations for the interstate highway system. He continued consulting during his academic career at Syracuse and Cornell, completing more than 400 assignments across six continents.

As an academic, Dr. Kulhawy was a prolific and influential researcher, authoring or co-authoring more than 370 publications. He made major contributions to foundation engineering, the development of reliability-based geotechnical design, the mechanics of soil-structure interaction, and geotechnical property evaluation. John Turner, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, a former student, remembered him as a dedicated and rigorous teacher who kept things in perspective with “his wry sense of humor and the wildest wardrobe (especially his ties!).” Turner wrote,”The group of researchers working on Fred’s EPRI-funded projects during [the mid-1980s] includes many of today’s leading authorities in our profession. We all benefited immensely from Fred’s keen insights and guidance.”

Dr. Kulhawy was an active member and leader in ASCE and the Geo-Institute, and was elected to Distinguished Membership in 2005. He was named a G-I Hero in 2014. He served as the president of the Syracuse Section of ASCE and as a Student Chapter advisor. He was an active member and a past chair of the G-I’s Deep Foundations Technical Committee, and he was also active on the Rock Mechanics Technical Committee. He received the Kapp Foundation Engineering award in 2014, the Norman Medal in 2005, and the Karl Terzaghi Award in 2005. A Geotechnical Special Publication, Foundation Engineering in the Face of Uncertainty (GSP 229), was prepared in his honor in 2013.