Title: Thomas R. Briggs Professor Emeritus of Engineering
Company: Cornell University
Location: Ithaca, New York, United States
Thomas D. O’Rourke, PhD, Dist. MASCE, NAE, FREng, Thomas R. Briggs Professor Emeritus of Engineering at Cornell University, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in earthquake engineering.
Dr. O’Rourke was introduced to his field of study through a special grants program sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which allowed him to become involved in earthquake engineering and improving practices for infrastructure at Cornell University. Upon attaining his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the institution in 1970, he took on his first role as a geotechnical engineer with Dames & Moore that same year. Shortly thereafter, Dr. O’Rourke went on to matriculate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a Master of Science in Civil Engineering in 1973 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1975.
Pivoting to education, Dr. O’Rourke taught as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1975 to 1978. In 1978, he joined the faculty at his alma mater, Cornell University, having been an assistant, associate and full professor until his appointment as the Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering in 1999. In addition to teaching, Dr. O’Rourke has been the recipient of numerous patents and is the author and co-author to more than 380 papers and published reports. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as a distinguished member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Notably, Dr. O’Rourke has been the recipient of numerous accolades over the course of his career, including the Housner Medal from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in 2016 and the Japan Gas Award from the Japan Gas Association in 2003. From the American Society of Civil Engineers, he was bestowed with the Leval Lund Award in 2014, the Ralph B. Peck Award in 2005, the Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award in 1997, the C. Martin Duke Award in 1995 and more dating back to 1976. Likewise, Dr. O’Rourke has accepted the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Illinois and the Kenneth A. Goldman Excellence in Teaching Award from Cornell University.
Reflecting on his career thus far, Dr. O’Rourke is most proud of his development of systems models for water supply response to earthquakes in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, as well as the large-scale testing and modeling that support a new generation of hazard-resilient infrastructure. He had also evaluated the impact of events, such as the World Trade Center Disaster on the critical infrastructure systems of New York City, pointing out points of interdependence among them that had not yet been recognized. To attest to his legacy, Dr. O’Rourke can also be found in numerous editions of Who’s Who in Finance and Business, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America.
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