The Path to Public Service at SEAS


Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum


Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President


Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study


Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Knowledge of Economics, Government, Aesthetics Held to Be Vital Engineering Training by Aiken in Fourth Article

University Seen as Leader in Study of Soil Mechanics under Prof. Casagrande


This is the fourth article in the series on the activities of the Graduate School of Engineering, by Howard Aiken, instructor in Physics and Communication Engineering.

The designer and builder of fortifications, roads, and bridges that facilitated the movement of troops, many centuries age, was called a military engineer. By contrast, the designer, and builder of civil works, such as highways, canals, bridges, and buildings to be used in the peaceful development of a country was called a "civil engineer." Although, strictly speaking, all engineers not engaged in military works are civil engineers, the expansion and diversification of engineering associated with the last century have necessarily restricted the application of the term civil engineering to include such activities as the design and construction of public works, large buildings, and railroads.

Many civil engineering projects are architectural or monumental in character, and therefore adequate preparation for the profession of civil engineering should include, beside a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of engineering and economics, an appreciation of governmental organization and esthetic values. Here it is again evident that engineering education is pursued with advantage at Harvard University.

Mechanical engineering is also a basic profession in modern industry. It is concerned with such activities as the development and transmission of power, the design and construction of machinery, and the operation of industrial plants. Although the subject matter of mechanical and civil engineering may differ greatly there is much overlapping of interest and both share the principles of applied mechanics as a common basis.

The Graduate School of Engineering offers courses of instruction in most of the phases of civil and mechanical engineering, but special emphasis is placed on the subjects of structural engineering and foundation engineering department, and on vibration theory and thermodynamics in the mechanical engineering department.

The courses in structural engineering and the design of reinforced concrete structures are offered by Dean Harald M. Westergaard and Professor Albert Haertlein. In addition to his normal university duties, Professor Haertlein has for the past year been President of the New England Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

One of the most interesting of the elementary courses offered by the civil engineering department to students in the College is the Summer course in Surveying, at Squam Lake. This course offers an opportunity for engineering science students to test themselves against the problems and life of their contemplated profession, in addition to giving instruction in the theory and practice of surveying, map making, and exploration. The course offers an exceptional opportunity for rigorous training in problems of engineering measurement. Its popularity is greatly increasing; last summer the enrollment showed nearly 100 percent increase over the previous year.

One of the most recent developments in Civil Engineering is the study of soil mechanics. This work is under the direction of Professor Arthur Casagrande. The use of earth, either for construction purposes or as foundations for carrying structures, is as old as human civilization itself. For centuries builders have witnessed gradual or sudden subsidences of their structures, when not built on solid rock, sometimes with disastrous consequences. It is a perplexing fact that this tremendous amount of human experience did not crystallize into a scientific approach to the mechanics of soils until about fifteen years ago.

Harvard was one of the first universities to engage in this problem of soil mechanics, and in June, 1936, the First International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering was held here, largely through the efforts of Professor Casagrande. At the present time he is cooperating with the engineers of the United States Army working on the problem of the design of dams for flood control purposes. Under his direction the University has established a Soil Mechanics Laboratory for instruction and research in the properties of soils.

The department of Mechanical Engineering is under the leadership of Professor Lionel S. Marks, assisted by Professor C. H. Berry. Professor Marks is widely recognized for his work on axial flow fans which have been brought to their present state of development largely through his efforts. In addition, he is the Editor in Chief of one of the most widely used reference works on mechanical engineering, and his investigations of the properties of saturated and super-heated steam, in collaboration with Professor Harvey Davis, formerly of the Graduate School of Engineering and now President of Stevens Institutes of Technology, resulted in the publication of steam tables which are almost indispensable to engineers engaged in steam engineering work. During the world war he was associated with the National Research Council and was head of the section which had charge of new developments in airplane engines. At present he is engaged in revising the standard test code of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers dealing with centrifugal and axial-flow fans.

Professor C. H. Berry, whose major interest is in the field of engineering thermodynamics, offers courses in steam power plants, heating and ventilating, and other allied subjects in addition to an advance course in the theory of thermodynamics. Before coming to Harvard Professor Berry was engaged in the design of steam power plants for one of the largest public utility companies in this country, and formerly was editor of "Power." His extensive practical experience in his field has been of great value in his teaching activities here at Harvard, and has been recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers through their appointment of Professor Berry as Chairman of the Committee of Test Codes for Steam Turbones.

The laboratory facilities of the department of mechanical engineering are housed in the Gordon McKay Laboratory and include apparatus for instruction and research in a variety of mechanical engineering problems, and in addition the Dunbar Laboratory has been specially equipped for research on heat transfer and thermal measurements.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.