David Billington
NSF Award Recognition: NSF 2003 Distinguished Teaching Scholars

Research Contributions: Prof. Billington's early academic career focused on research in structural theory, especially thin shells. His accomplishments are reflected in his textbook Thin Shell Concrete Structures, which has become the standard text on the subject and was reissued as one of twenty-five Classic Text Reprints by McGraw-Hill. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Belgium (1950-51). For his scholarship in the history of technology he has won the Dexter Prize (1979) from the Society for the History of Technology and the Usher Prize (1995) for the Best Scholarly Work. Prof. Billington holds three honorary degrees, and has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (1986) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998).

Educational Contributions: Prof. Billington has developed several introductory courses studying the major engineering innovations that have transformed the modern United States. He has published several books to support these courses: Robert Maillart's Bridges, The Tower and the Bridge, and The Innovators: The Engineering Pioneers Who Made America Modern. In 1999 the Engineering News Record identified Prof. Billington as one of the "top 125 people for their outstanding contributions to the construction industry since 1874" -- he was one of the five educators named and the only one still teaching. Prof. Billington has many teaching and education awards including the Carnegie Foundation's New Jersey State Professor of the Year Award (1995), the Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Education (1990), Educator of the Year by the Consulting Engineers Council of New Jersey (1998), Educator of the Year by the Central New Jersey Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1997), Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996), and the Princeton's Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Teaching (1988 and 1992).

Director's Award Project: Prof. Billington's project aims to develop teaching materials for beginning engineering students and the general student body that introduce students to major engineering innovations of the twentieth century, and the thinking of outstanding engineers. The materials will demand visual understanding, numerical work and expository writing, in order to demonstrate that efficiency, economy, and ethical and aesthetic choices are all intrinsic to engineering design, and will be in a form that other schools can use.

from NSF Event, June 3, 2003 Program