Henry Petroski will be the Plenary Speaker at the opening session of the Covered Bridge Preservation: National Best Practices Conference held June 5-7, 2003 at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt. Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. He has written on many aspects of engineering and technology, including design, success and failure, error and judgment, the history of engineering and technology, and the use of case studies in education and practice. His books on these subjects, which are intended for professional engineers and general readers alike, include: To Engineer Is Human, which was adapted for a BBC-television documentary; The Pencil; The Evolution of Useful Things; Design Paradigms, which was named by the Association of American Publishers as the best general engineering book published in 1994; Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America - Engineers of Dreams; Invention by Design; Remaking the World; and The Book on the Bookshelf.
In addition to having published the usual technical articles in the refereed journals of his field, Petroski has published numerous articles and essays in newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsday and Scientific American. Since 1991 he has been writing the "Engineering" column in American Scientist, and since 2000 has been writing a bimonthly column on the engineering profession for ASEE Prism. He also lectures regularly to both technical and general audiences, in the U.S. and abroad, and has been interviewed frequently on radio and television. In addition to appearances on NPR's All Things Considered and other public radio shows, he has been a guest on television shows like CNN's Talk Back Live and NBC's Today.
Before moving to Duke in 1980, Henry Petroski was on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin and on the staff of Argonne National Laboratory. He is a professional engineer licensed in Texas and a chartered engineer registered in Ireland. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, and a Fellow of the National Humanities Center. Among his other honors are the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, honorary doctoral degrees from Clarkson University, Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.), and Valparaiso University, and distinguished engineering alumnus awards from Manhattan College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (whose History and Heritage Committee he chairs), a fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland, an honorary member of the Moles, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering
The Covered Bridge Preservation: National Best Practices Conference is being planned for state and local highway engineers, state and county covered bridge maintenance personnel, volunteers charged with raising funds for the preservation of covered bridges, local and national covered bridge preservation organizations, historic preservationists, general contractors, structural engineers, covered bridge historians, the traveling public and community members. The conference will offer two conference tracks with over 36 presentations on subjects as diverse as bridge preservation case studies, best practices in maintaining covered bridges, engineering, covered bridge history and cultural tourism strategies for municipalities and states. Proceedings will be published in print and in on-line formats.
The Covered Bridge Preservation: National Best Practices Conference will also be the first of its kind to collect and benchmark the vast array of information that exists on covered bridges by inviting all those concerned with covered bridge preservation to participate. A goal of the conference will be to develop a national reference base for evaluating various treatments of historic covered bridges in ways that will maintain their historic integrity as National Register properties.
The conference also intends to promote a dialogue of the diverse ideas, experience, techniques and practices for historic covered bridge preservation. The conference is presented as part of the National Historic Covered Bridge Program funded under Section 1224(b) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in partnership with the National Park Service, Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), is undertaking a project to document significant covered bridges in the United States. The Preservation Education Institute is working in partnership with the National Park Service (HAER in Washington, DC and the Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland) and the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program to present this three-day event.
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