A Calvin College professor of engineering has been honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers as the 2008 recipient of the ASCE Civil Engineering History and Heritage Award.
Robert Hoeksema was selected for the award for his book Designed for Dry Feet: Flood Protection and Land Reclamation in the Netherlands which the ASCE said "enriched the heritage of engineers everywhere by linking one of the world's great civil engineering achievements to the history of The Netherlands."
The award began in 1966 as a way to "recognize those persons who through writing, research, or other efforts have made outstanding contributions to a better knowledge of, or appreciation for, the history and heritage of civil engineering." Hoeksema follows a long line of prominent civil engineers who have received this award since 1966, including Ulysses S. Grant, III, a civil engineer who was the grandson of the U.S. President.
Steve VanderLeest, chair of the Calvin engineering department, said the award, which Hoeksema will receive at the ASCE narional conference in November 2008, is a fitting recognition.
"The book demonstrates Professor Hoeksema's wonderful gift for making the historical and technological details come to life for a wide audience," he said. "We are delighted that he has received this prestigious award from the ASCE, a professional society in the best position to judge his book a scholarly and literary success."
Hoeksema's 2006 book was on the landscape of the Netherlands and how that country used and developed technologies over many centuries to create and maintain usable dry land in a very inhospitable environment.
A 1976 Calvin graduate, Hoeksema also has graduate degrees in civil engineering hydraulics, hydrology, and water resources. But he says he had never thought much about the water-related engineering achievements of the Dutch prior to teaching a Calvin interim course in the Netherlands in January 1995.
The book tells the entire story of the history of Dutch flood protection and land reclamation from dwelling mounds constructed as early as 500 B.C. to large storm surge barriers completed at the end of the twentieth century, including the social-political-economic context for these developments.
In addition to providing historic and technical background, the book includes excursion guide details for readers interested in seeing many of the places Hoeksema describes.
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