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George Housner Oral History Interview with Rachel Prud'Homme [sound recording]

Interview in 1984 with George W. Housner, Carl F. Braun Professor of Engineering emeritus. BS, University of Michigan in civil engineering, 1933. MS Caltech, 1934. Interest in earthquake engineering after 1933 Long Beach earthquake; 1934-39, designed schools, bridges, and dams in Los Angeles; returned to Caltech for PhD (1941) with R. R. Martel. Worked for Corps of Engineers in Los Angeles, protecting aircraft industry from possible wartime attack. Adviser to the air force in North Africa and Italy during the war. Joined Caltech faculty 1945 as asst. prof. of applied mechanics; buildup of Engineering and Applied Science Division under chairman Fred Lindvall. Comments on differences between seismologists and earthquake engineers. Recalls origins of earthquake engineering at Caltech under Martel. Chairs engineering committee on 1964 Alaska quake. With Paul Jennings, consults on earthquake design for buildings in downtown Los Angeles. Founding of Earthquake Engineering Research Institute [EERI]. Comments on liquefaction in 1964 Niigata earthquake. Recalls Theodor von Kármán's part in designing pumps for Colorado River Aqueduct. Recalls his own involvement in Feather River Project in 1950s as president of EERI, and Ralph Nader's misrepresentation of its earthquake safety. Comments on engineering improvements in aftermath of 1971 San Fernando earthquake. Visits China in 1978 as member of delegation on earthquake engineering. Comments on superiority of Japanese earthquake preparedness. Founding of International Association for Earthquake Engineering and Caltech Earthquake Research Affiliates. Establishment with NSF funding of a Committee on Natural Hazards, including wind damage. Sen. Alan Cranston's part in getting NSF money in 1974 for earthquake research. Comments on his work at Palomar Observatory and Union Bank Building. Comments on demolition of Caltech's Throop Hall following San Fernando quake, on future of engineering education, and on his stint as chairman of the faculty. Comments on Ed Simmons, inventor of a strain gauge, Simmons's legal battle with Caltech, and Caltech's patent policy.

ID: 1984-00028
Housner, George William (Engineer)

Creation Jul. 2, 1984 through Jul. 11, 1984

MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound cassette: analog; QUANTITY: 1 set (3 cassettes per set)

Topics: Engineering

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