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Memorial Tributes, Volume 11
RALPH E. FADUM
Elected in 1975
“For contributions as a civil engineer, educator, consultant, researcher andauthor, a pioneer in soil mechanics and foundation engineering.”
BY PAUL ZIA
RALPH E. FADUM, Emeritus Dean of Engineering at North Carolina State University, died of natural causes at Mayview Convalescent Center in Raleigh on July 12, 2000. He was 87 years old.
Ralph was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 19, 1912, one of four children of Torgeir and Mimmi Fadum, who had immigrated to the United States from Norway. Around 1920, the family moved from Pittsburgh to Niagara Falls, New York, where Torgeir, an electrical engineer, joined Niagara-Hudson Power Corporation to work on a new generating station. Ralph, his two younger brothers, and an older sister were raised in Niagara Falls where they attended elementary and secondary school.
Inspired by a science teacher in high school, Ralph decided to study civil engineering at the University of Illinois, where an education cost less than at universities in the northeast. When Ralph graduated high school, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, and he had to take on a variety of temporary jobs to meet his college expenses. These included working in the dining hall, tutoring fellow students, and painting steel transmission towers during the summer.
In 1935, after earning a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, he was offered a fellowship to enter Harvard