World Wide Web of Geotechnical Engineers - Hall of Fame

Arthur Casagrande

(1902 - 1981)

Used with permission from John Wiley & sons, New York

The Man

Arthur Casagrande was born on August 28, 1902 in Austria. He came to the United States in 1926 and settled for good. He worked at the Bureau of Public Roads and as a Research Assistant under Terzaghi at MIT. He was the "right hand" of Terzaghi for several years and made, or contributed to making, the fundamental developments of Soil Mechanics. He later became a Professor of Soil Mechanics. He also served the profession as the President of the ISSMFE in 1960's.


Professor Casagrande started the Soil Mechanics program at Harvard University in 1932. This has been the model for all other programs that came later.

Many of his students were inpired by Casagrande and entered the field of Soil Mechanics; these men have later become the creators of the Geotechnical Engineering field as we know it today. His work at Harvard that spans some four decades has produced numerous publications. The list of his students (see the reference below) is like the "Who's Who" list of geotechnical engineering. I'm proud to see the names of both my MS advisor (Soydemir) and PhD advisor (Janbu) among Casagrande's students. Indirectly, Casagrande touched my life, too.


Being a pioneer, professor Casagrande worked on the fundamental problems of Soil Mechanics, such as soil classification, seepage through earth, and shear strength. It is safe to assume that the "A-Line" on the plasticity chart is after "Arthur."

Most geotechnical engineers, the writer included, haven't seen half as many dams he worked on. To honor his lasting contributions to this area of geotechncial engineering his former students have created "Embankment-Dam Engineering -- the Casagrande Volume" (Wiley, 1974).


Casagrande's contributions to the profession were recognized by giving him the honors of Rankine Lecturer by the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), and Terzaghi Lecturer by American Society of Civil Engineers. He was also the first recipient of the Terzaghi Award from ASCE. He authored more than one hundred research papers and reports -- on great many subjects, from frost heave to dynamic loading and everything in between.

by Mete Oner

Professor of Civil and Environemental Engineering
214B Engineering South
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078

The contribution by Edgard G. A. Arduino is gratefully acknowledged.

© Copyright Mete Oner, 1997