With nearly 50 years of professional experience in the fields of engineering and academia, Thomas D. O’Rourke, Ph.D., Dist. MASCE, NAE, FREng, has served Cornell University for a significant portion of his career, first as an assistant professor from 1978 to 1980. He then fulfilled the position of associate professor from 1981 to 1987 and held a post as a full professor from 1987 to 1998. Since 1999, Dr. O’Rourke has been honored as the Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering, where he evaluates the seismic impact of earthquakes on surrounding regions. His areas of expertise include underground construction, deep excavations, and pipeline technology.
In preparation for his illustrious career, Dr. O’Rourke first obtained a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cornell University in 1970, followed by a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973. He subsequently earned a Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1975. Since then, Dr. O’Rourke has served as a member of the Mexican Academy of Engineering, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering. Furthermore, he has been deemed an international fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Among his notable achievements include the development of U.S. patents for flexible substrate sensor systems for environmental and infrastructure monitoring in 2014 and for frictionless pipe in 1998. Additionally, between 1997 and 2008, he was the principal or coprincipal investigator on more than 80 research projects in the realms of civil and chemical engineering. The author and co-author of more than 380 published papers and reports, Dr. O’Rourke has also consulted in more than 120 projects in 13 different countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Angola, Canada, Ecuador, France, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, Trinidad, Turkey and Venezuela. Moreover, he has delivered more than 150 lectures, keynotes and conference presentations worldwide.
In recognition of his exceptional achievements, Dr. O’Rourke has been presented with several accolades over the course of his career. An honorary member of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering, he was the recipient of the George W. Housner Medal from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in 2016, an honoree of the Outstanding Earthquake Spectra Paper from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in 2016, a recipient of the Leval Lund Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Illinois in 2005, among countless others.
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