Time:
13:10 - 14:00
Date:
29 October 2020

Benjamin Wright, a 250th Anniversary Commemoration

History & Heritage

This session will earn 1.0 PDH

Distinguished Lecture Series

Abstract: Benjamin Wright (1770-1842) is considered the Father of American Civil Engineering and upon review of his career, this accolade is a fitting honor. In 1970 ASCE made a formal declaration awarding him this title and did so for three reasons. First, he was the chief engineer on America’s first public works project, the Erie Canal, a project that helped America transition from colonialism into the age of Manifest Destiny. Second, many civil engineers who would later have notable careers gained valuable experience with his mentorship. Third, he served on an organizational committee during early efforts to create a professional civil engineering society, some ten years before the formal creation of the society: ASCE. This presentation examines his background, his varied accomplishments, and his impact on the profession. Lessons learned will include a broader understanding of why ASCE considers Wright the Father of the civil engineering profession in America. It will also include insights into some means and methods of colonial era engineering, and the impact of much of his work into the present day.

Fittingly, this presentation during the 2020 annual Convention falls on the 250th Anniversary of Wright's birth and the 50th Anniversary of ASCE’s formal declaration.

Learning Objectives: 

  • An understanding of why ASCE considers Wright the Father of the civil engineering profession in America.
  • Insights into some of the means and methods of colonial era engineering.
  • A broad understanding of the impact of his work into the present day.