University of Vermont

Featured Alumnus

Jean-Guy L. Béliveau '68

Jean-Guy BéliveauBorn in Québec, the oldest of eight children, Jean-Guy Béliveau moved with his parents to Coventry, VT, in 1955 and enrolled in a one-room schoolhouse. "My father, a construction superintendent, told me to consider becoming an engineer — he told me they get to go inside trailers when it's cold," Béliveau says. He followed that advice and applied to the University of Vermont's engineering program.

Dr. Béliveau obtained his BS in civil engineering in 1968 from UVM and found his lifelong partner and friend there as well. "I skipped my materials lab to meet my future wife Connie in Billings," Béliveau explains. "It was love at first sight." They were married at UVM's St. Augustine's Chapel and arranged to have their receiving line under the Hyperbolic Paraboloid or "Hypar," a structure built and designed by Béliveau's class as part of their 1968 civil engineering student project. Still standing on Redstone Campus, Dr. Béliveau and fellow alumni recently saved the Hypar from the wrecking ball when UVM attempted to remove it for additional parking spaces.

The Hyperbolic Paraboloid or "Hypar," designed and constructed by the civil engineering class of 1968.After graduation, Béliveau worked for General Electric in Burlington with the Edison Program for about a year and a half. "One of my projects was to use data from the Ethan Allen Firing Range to determine the aerodynamic parameters of projectiles," Béliveau says. This first assignment led him to an interest in the use of vibration data to determine the physical parameters of structures in buildings, which led to his desire to teach and do research.

Béliveau's advisor on the Hypar project, Professor Bud Stearns, suggested that he attend Princeton, one of the schools at which he'd been accepted. Béliveau received his PhD from Princeton in 1974 for his research on suspension bridge aeroelasticity using wind tunnels, and began teaching as an associate professor of civil engineering at Sherbrooke in 1974. He then returned to UVM in 1984 as an associate professor and became a professor in 1989.

Dr. Béliveau's research consists of assessing the structural behavior of existing buildings, including historical buildings such as the Breeding Barn at Shelburne Farms built in 1890 — an ongoing project. These assessments help to determine the safety of these structures with regard to their projected loads. Working with graduate students from both UVM and the Université of Sherbrooke, his research involves the use of measured vibrations and the concepts of structural dynamics to assess a structure for stiffness, stability and strength. His applications involve model-testing methods as well as measurements of resonant frequencies to determine axial compression in rails and tension in the iron bars of wood and iron trusses.

In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Béliveau has been involved with academic and professional committees. He believes strongly that engineers should be registered in the states in which they practice, and that such service is critical.

Through his involvement with the Vermont Society of Professional Engineers, Dr. Béliveau became the Vermont state coordinator for MathCounts in 1990, stepping up from his initial service as the Vermont Northwest MathCounts coordinator. MathCounts is geared to inspire middle school students to excel in mathematics. He has also served as president of the Vermont Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and was treasurer for the Scholarship and Research Foundation for the Vermont Society of Engineers (VSE).

Dr. Béliveau has served as chair for the School of Engineering's Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and is a licensed professional engineer in Canada and a licensed structural engineer in Vermont. He has more than 60 technical publications that include 20 journal publications and more than 20 technical reports.

Recently elected as a Fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for significant technical or professional contribution and demonstrated notable achievement in responsible charge of engineering activity, Dr. Béliveau received ASCE's second-highest membership grade exceeded only by distinguished members.

Dr. Béliveau has a keen affiliation to UVM. He is one of a very few faculty to have been both a UVM graduate and the parent of three daughters who attended UVM. "It is truly amazing how much I have been able to accomplish thanks to UVM," Béliveau says. And UVM is grateful he heeded his father's advice.


Following the publication of this article, Dr. Beliveau passed away peacefully on Friday, July 17, 2009, surrounded by family and caring friends in the Vermont Respite Home in Williston, Vermont.