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Jan Achenbach Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Jan D. Achenbach, the Walter P. Murphy and Distinguished McCormick School Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University, was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 124th Commencement on Saturday, May 13.

Jan AchenbachThe degree was awarded for "his pioneering advancements in fracture mechanics and in furthering our understanding of how stress forces interact with flaws within structural metals; and for his revolutionary application of ultrasonic methods to detect flaws in critical structures."

"A degree from Clarkson University is a great asset, but keep in mind that your education is not finished when you leave here," said Achenbach in his remarks to the students. "There will always be something new to be learned in order to respond to whatever challenges you may encounter. Einstein said it -- when you are no longer learning, you are dying. But let work not be the only thing in your life. Also, have fun, find a companion, and enjoy what you are doing. I wish you good luck, but remember that luck has a way of happening to those who aim high."

Achenbach is known for his groundbreaking contributions to engineering research in the area of wave propagation in solids and fracture mechanics.

His work on the propagation of waves in solids emphasized the theory and applications of ultrasonic methods to quantitative non-destructive evaluation and the detection of cracks and corrosion in safety-critical structures, including aircraft and nuclear reactors. His research is responsible for critical improvements in airline and aircraft safety.

In recent years, he has worked on the development of probabilistic methods for structural health monitoring of fatigue damage in structural components for the purposes of diagnostics and prognostics.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1982 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994.

In 2003, Achenbach was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Technology for engineering research and education in the use of ultrasonic methods, and in 2005 he received the U.S. National Medal of Science for pioneering the field of quantitative nondestructive evaluation.

A native of the Netherlands, he received his Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in 1962, and joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1963.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, 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 innovation with enterprise.

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