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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Engineer Mark Sarkisian Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Mark P. Sarkisian, director of seismic and structural engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 120th Commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Mark P. Sarkisian, director of seismic and structural engineering in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLPSarkisian’s career has focused on developing innovative structural engineering solutions for more than 100 major building projects around the world, including the 421-meter-tall Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China; the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China; the 412-meter-tall Al Hamra Fidrous Tower in Kuwait City, Kuwait; and the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California.

The degree was awarded for his "dedication to the science and art of engineering and for his visionary development of sustainable buildings and construction methods, and his inspiring work with future generations of engineers, designers and builders."

Calling Clarkson graduates to contribute to the arts and sciences, to mathematics, physics and research, Sarkisian urged them to join forces and find sustainable solutions as if they were “…a collective of common elements, that is far more powerful and beautiful -- when working together than when each member works independently.”

As examples of this collaboration, he cited “…migratory birds flying in formation cycling leaders throughout their journey, people building and interacting in cities, and you and your professors striving toward the advancement of understanding together.”

He spoke of emergence-- of becoming something new-- saying, “This leads to efficiency in design and also creates a symbiotic relationship between structure, architecture and buildings systems.”

Sarkisian called this “emergence” -- becoming something new -- as “the path to achievement and accomplishments that will ultimately shape your contribution.”

Sarkisian received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Connecticut, where he is a Fellow of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and his master of science degree in structural engineering from Lehigh University.

He holds five U.S. Patents for high-performance seismic structural mechanisms designed to protect buildings in areas of high seismicity, including the Pin-Fuse Seismic Systems; and two patents for seismic and environmentally responsible structural systems: the Bay Arc Tidal Responsive Barrier and the Sustainable Form-Inclusion System.

Sarkisian has authored more than 100 technical papers related to the design of building structures, and in 2012 he completed the book, Designing Tall Buildings – Structure as Architecture, published by Routledge.

He teaches integrated studio design courses focused on collaborative design opportunities that have included students from the University of California, Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University.

Sarkisian is an invited speaker/lecturer and studio critic at universities throughout the world, including Lehigh University, the University of Connecticut, the Architectural Association - London, the University of Bristol, Stanford University, the University of California - Berkeley, and the University of Colorado.

Sarkisian is a licensed Professional Engineer and Structural Engineer in 16 states, and is LEED-accredited for the design of new building and construction.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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