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Memorial Tributes, Volume 14
RALPH B. PECK
Elected in 1965
“Soil mechanics and foundation engineer.”
BY GHOLAMREZA MESRI
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
RALPH B. PECK, professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and one of the most influential engineers of the twentieth century, died on February 18, 2008, at the age of 95.
He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on June 23, 1912, to American parents, Orwin K and Ethel Huyck Peck, when his father was a bridge engineer with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroad in Canada. Ralph Peck earned a degree in civil engineering in 1934 and a doctorate in civil engineering in 1937, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Ralph was employed from 1937 to 1938 as a structural detailer for American Bridge Company. In 1938–1939 he attended a course on soil mechanics at Harvard University and was a laboratory assistant to Arthur Casagrande. From 1939 to 1942, Peck was an assistant subway engineer for the city of Chicago, representing the “Father of Modern Soil Mechanics” Karl Terzaghi, who was a consultant on the Chicago subway project.