Ralph B. Peck


Ralph B. Peck

Foundation Engineer – Author – Consultant – Educator – Lecturer

Investigations – Teaching – Research – International Speaking – Textbooks – Soil Mechanics

Forty-third National Honor Member Nominated by the University of Illinois

Ralph B. Peck’s civil engineering career is distinguished by continual devotion to engineering education, investigations of stability conditions and tunnels, studies for dams and extensive writing. With others, he has written three books, including: Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice, Foundation Engineering, and From Theory to Practice in Soil Mechanics. He had over 130 technical publications dealing with foundations, earth pressures, tunnels, slopes, earth dams, etc.

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, on June 23, 1912, he was graduated from R.P.I. with a C.E. degree and a D.C.E. in 1934 and 1937, respectively. From April 1938 to January 1939, he was in the Graduate School of Engineering, Harvard University, and was a laboratory assistant with Arthur Casagrande.

After employment as Assistant Subway Engineer, City of Chicago, and as Chief Engineer-Testing, Holabind & Root, Marion, Ohio, he went to Urabana in December 1942. While at the University of Illinois, he served successively as Research Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Foundation Engineering. After May 1974, his title was Professor of Foundation Engineering, Emeritus.

Ralph Peck was registered in California, Hawaii, and Illinois. From 1942, he was a consultant for projects in many states in the United States, in six provinces in Canada, and in nine other countries. A few of the projects he was involved with include the Waimea Reservoir, Hawaii; Trans-Alaska Pipeline; Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco; Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; Latino Americana Building, Mexico City; Peace River Project, British Columbia; Kremasta Dam, Greece; and Dead Sea Dikes, Israel.

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an Honorary Member of ASCE, a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow in the Geological Society of America. During 1969-73, he served as President of the International Society of Soil Mechanics.

Ralph Peck was the recipient of the following honors and awards: 1974 National Medal of Science, awarded by President Ford, September 18, 1975; selected as One of Top Ten U.S. Construction Men of the past 50 years. Construction Div., American Society of Civil Engineers, 1975; Washington Award, 1976; and the Golden Beaver Award, 1983. He was the first Karl Terzaghi Lecturer, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1963. He was a distinguished lecturer in Great Britain, Mexico, and Norway.

Dr. Peck served as a member of various boards for the Corps of Engineers and on boards dealing with various defense projects for Rand Corporation, Space Technology Laboratories, Aerospace Corporation. Certainly, his engineering achievements have enriched the lives of many people around the world.

Dr. Peck was first elected to Chi Epsilon on May 27, 1946, at the University of Illinois, chapter no. 1, chartered in 1922, as a Chapter Honor Member with a general number of 3576 and an individual chapter number of 413. He was elevated by Chi Epsilon as the 43rd National Honor Member at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 31, 1984, during the 28th National Conclave.

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