Charles Dowding, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE, for his decades of vital contribution to geotechnical engineering and engineering education, has been honored as an ASCE Distinguished Member.
Dowding’s insight into frequency response has enabled the discernment of cases of structural distress as apart from that caused solely by environmental effects. Such structures include residential and commercial buildings, buried pipelines, large excavations in rock (including caverns and tunnels), quarry high walls, and natural rock pinnacles. He founded Digital Vibration Inc. because he recognized the need for remote data acquisition, and the company was the first to perfect remote, digital, blast vibration monitoring. Sold to STS Consultants in 1988, the technology that DVI developed is used commercially worldwide.
But his innovations in remote acquisition continued. As principal investigator in the advancement of the commercially available miniaturized Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) in 1997, he revolutionized remote monitoring and analysis of nonlocal soil and rock. This, along with the use of cable radar, has expanded the capabilities for remote, real-time monitoring and analysis of soil and rock deformation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, state DOTs, mining companies, and others are utilizing this technology for applications that include monitoring damn stability, mine subsidence, and slope movement.
Dowding, since 1976, has been a professor of civil engineering with Northwestern University. His other academic appointments were at MIT and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. He has motivated students by his clear presentation of engineering principles, his desire to expose them to the latest developments, and his constant questioning. He has been a role model and mentor for 62 M.S. and 18 Ph.D. students, who can be found among faculty at the most prestigious of engineering schools, such as the University of Minnesota, Brigham Young University, National Chung-Hsing University, and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
He is widely published, his textbook Construction Vibrations a go-to for practitioners and researchers around the globe. Others books he has authored are GeoMeasurements by Pulsing TDR Cables and Probes (with K. O’Connor), Blast Vibration Monitoring and Control, and Micro-meter Crack Response to Vibration and Weather. As a consultant he recently worked for the Panama Canal Authority (2012), and previously for Pipeline Research Council Inc. (2008), Metro North Railroad (2008-present), and CH2M Hill.
Among Dowding’s honors and awards are Civil Engineer of the Year (ASCE Illinois Section, 2014), the President’s Distinguished Service Award (International Society of Explosives Engineers, 2011), and Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (2003-05). In addition to ASCE, he is a member of NSEE and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering.
Professional activities also include the ASCE Geo-Institute’s Rock Mechanics Committee (chairman, 1984-91) and the International Society for Rock Mechanics’ Committee on Ground Vibration Monitoring (chairman). He has also been on the board of direction for ISEE and the American Rock Mechanics Association.
Dowding is a registered professional engineer in Colorado, and earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.