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Harvey E. and Margaret W. Wahls

After earning a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. at Northwestern University (where he also met Margy), Harvey Wahls served on the faculty at NC State for 37 years, leading the graduate program for 26 years and serving as associate head for Graduate Programs for 13 years until retiring in 1997. Wahls also provided university-wide leadership through service to the College of Engineering and Graduate School. As a geotechnical engineering teacher, his courses included a sequence of graduate courses that served as a foundation for generations of practitioners and researchers, and he was recognized by several awards, including being selected for the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers. His research in geotechnical engineering, including investigations of the behavior of compacted soils, consolidation, and soil dynamics, also provided opportunities for numerous Ph.D. and M.S. students who went on to have major impacts in practice, professional societies, and academia.  

Wahls served on technical committees of ASCE and the Transportation Research Board and developed manuals of practice, including guidance for bridge foundations. As a professional engineer, he often provided important consulting services nationwide and expert witness testimony. His professional services included chairing two ASCE Specialty Conferences, In Situ Measurement of Soil Properties and Geotechnical Practice in Dam Rehabilitation, held at NC State; the former served as a model for numerous conferences to follow where he also provided leadership. His services to the Geo-Institute of ASCE included membership on the Board of Governors and representing the U.S. as the international secretary.  He also served as the U.S. delegate to the Administrative Council meetings of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. 

“My two years in graduate school at NC State were very enjoyable primarily because most of my classes and research was under the direction of Dr. Harvey Wahls,” said Glenn Futrell (BSCE 1963, MSCE 1965), founder of Soils & Materials Testing (S&ME). “His guidance and assistance to me, especially on the research projects and my thesis were very rewarding. He was a great teacher and always available to advise and assist.”

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