Eric Hernandez, a University of Vermont professor and internationally-known scholar whose research is at the forefront of structural engineering, has been invested as the first Gregory N. Sweeny Green and Gold Professor of Civil Engineering. In a formal ceremony on December 17, 2018, University leaders, faculty from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, and other guests honored Professor Hernandez and celebrated the legacy of the late Greg Sweeny ’70.
Greg was a graduate of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, where he was president of the UVM chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The passion for engineering that he displayed at UVM was a hallmark of Greg’s professional life. After graduating in 1970, he joined the Federal Aviation Administration and earned a master’s degree in Air Transportation and Construction Management from the University of California, Berkeley. All told, he spent forty-one years working to strengthen and improve aviation infrastructure in New England and the Midwest, earning numerous professional awards in recognition of his skill and dedication. He died in 2016.
A loyal philanthropic supporter of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences for over forty years, Greg understood that an outstanding civil engineering program requires exceptional students, equipment, facilities, and faculty. With this in mind, he generously established permanent endowments to provide scholarships to undergraduates and fellowships to graduate students. He also donated funds to enhance the spaces and equipment that students and faculty use in their courses and research. Finally, he endowed the Gregory N. Sweeny Green and Gold Professorship in Civil Engineering to be housed in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The inaugural Sweeny Green and Gold Professor, Eric Hernandez, PhD, is a celebrated educator, university citizen and researcher. His research focuses on developing algorithms and cost-effective technologies to monitor and reliably assess the integrity of complex infrastructure systems and reduce their risk of catastrophic collapse. To do so, he applies a variety of tools and techniques including systems theory, structural and damage mechanics, feedback control, state estimation, and probability theory. His work has been published in over three dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, reports, and conference proceedings.
Professor Hernandez’s research has been funded by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, NASA, and the National Science Foundation. In 2015 he was awarded a prestigious NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program Award titled, “Structural Health Monitoring, Diagnosis and Prognosis of Minimally Instrumented Structural Systems.” His project pioneers a novel framework to assess the safety of buildings and bridges, helping specialists predict the remaining life of these structures.
“The faculty in our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as in all of our departments, emphasize rigorous technical education and social awareness,” noted Linda Schadler, Dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “They strive to prepare students to become engineering leaders and innovators who are prepared to make the world a better place; one structure, road, water system, or airport at a time. Professor Eric Hernandez embodies this quest, and we are so proud to count him among our faculty. He is a quintessential teacher-scholar, whose research and scholarship inform and enrich his teaching and mentoring.”
Professor Hernandez and Greg Sweeny’s brother, Bruce Sweeny, were presented with commemorative medallions in front of family, friends, colleagues, and students gathered in the Keller Family Room in Ifshin Hall on the UVM Campus.
About the University of Vermont Foundation
The University of Vermont Foundation is a nonprofit corporation established to secure and manage private support for the benefit of the University of Vermont (UVM), one of the nation’s premier small research universities. The UVM Foundation, in partnership with the University and the University of Vermont Medical Center, is currently engaged in a comprehensive fundraising campaign with five strategic priorities: student access and scholarship; faculty research and support; student-centered programs; patient- and family-centered clinical care; and long-term investment in facilities. Move Mountains: The Campaign for The University of Vermont surpassed its initial goal of $500 million in private support in July 2018, and will conclude on June 30, 2019. For further information about the Move Mountains campaign or giving to UVM, contact the University of Vermont Foundation, 411 Grasse Mount, Burlington VT 05401; 802-656-2010; email firstname.lastname@example.org.