I want my students to know how to pay it forward. In essence, it is the proper application of their engineering knowledge gained from Bucknell that will create safer infrastructure and environments.

Corrie Walton-Macaulay

When Professor Corrie Walton-Macaulay was a child, a severe storm ripped through his native Sierra Leone, tearing the roof off a neighbor's house. He and his father were surveying damage from their car when they saw the neighbor's child sitting in the street and crying. Her mother had been hurt, and the house was in bad shape, but nearby houses were unscathed. Walton-Macaulay realized then that the house's structure played a role in its inability to withstand the storm, and his interest in civil engineering was born.

Today, as a professor of civil & environmental engineering, Walton-Macaulay focuses on unsaturated soil mechanics in his geotechnical engineering studies. "Most of the design and research work that civil and geotechnical engineers undertake has been based on saturated soils, which in general would give a condition of a worst-case scenario. If the soil is saturated and soft, the planned structure may not be suitable to bear on that soil," he says. "Yet most of the soil in place as foundations such as in embankments, roadways and below some of our infrastructures are not saturated. Why not better understand and design for an actual condition or conditions instead of assuming a worst-case scenario?" Under this circumstance, he discovers how the soil really behaves.

"To take a line from public safety, civil engineers protect and serve," says Walton-Macaulay. "I want my students to know how to pay it forward by creating safe conditions and by passing on what they learn at Bucknell. In essence, it is the proper application of their engineering knowledge gained from Bucknell that will create safer infrastructure and environments. There will be a time when they are consultants or managers who must teach a process to others. I want them to understand that the knowledge they gain here will enable them to help people down the road."

Posted Oct. 7, 2015

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