University of Delaware
UD's Dov Leshchinsky, professor of civil engineering, was honored with a conference in Italy devoted to his work.

Life's work cited

UD's Dov Leshchinsky honored at conference in Italy


3:58 p.m., Nov. 7, 2013--Friends and colleagues of Dov Leshchinsky, University of Delaware professor of civil and environmental engineering, gathered at a conference in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 14-16 to honor his achievements in the field of geotechnical engineering.

The event, held at the School of Engineering and Architecture at the University of Bologna, featured more than 110 attendees from 34 countries including the United States, Germany, Japan and New Zealand.

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Former students and peers contributed more than 70 papers to a unique 751-page hardcover book in Leshchinsky’s honor. The volume featured papers discussing the use of geosynthetic-reinforced soil as well as heartfelt stories and memories of Leshchinsky as told by his friends, family and colleagues.

“Through Dov, I have made many great friends,” said Hoe I. Ling, professor of geotechnical engineering at Columbia University. “He always speaks for his friends and colleagues even under the most unfavorable conditions. Dov is a person who is very humble and has never tried to seek any recognition.”

Born in Haifa, Israel, Leshchinsky earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology before pursuing his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

He joined the UD faculty in 1982.

An expert in slope stability engineering, soil mechanics, soil reinforcing and ground improvement, Leshchinsky’s groundbreaking research led him to develop several software programs that aid in the design of geosynthetic reinforced slopes in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration and private industry companies. He also created commercial software programs that enable engineers worldwide to design structures and analyze their stability.

His work has concentrated mainly on methods for developing and maintaining mechanically stabilized earth walls and slopes for use in retaining structures such as bridges, dams, retaining walls, levees and seawalls.

Valued by his UD students as a teacher and mentor, Leshchinsky also frequently taught professionals and educators throughout the world about the design and use of geosynthetic reinforced soil.

In 2010, the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded Leshchinsky the prestigious Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award, given annually for outstanding achievement in geo-construction.

Leshchinsky’s longtime friend and colleague, Fumio Tatsuoka, admired his “honest, responsible and straightforward” personality while also maintaining a high level of intellect and knowledge.

“Geotechnical engineering without geosynthetic engineering is cost-ineffective, while geosynthetic engineering without geotechnical engineering is a disaster. Dov is highly specialized in both disciplines,” Tatsuoka said.

Closer to home, Leshchinsky’s work inspired his son Ben to follow in his father’s footsteps, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UD and master’s and doctoral degrees in geotechnical engineering at Columbia University.

“I would come home from New York with frequency, often discussing geotechnical engineering over a home cooked meal, my father excited to have another colleague, albeit an inexperienced one,” Ben Leshchinsky said.

Article by Kevin Cella

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