Academy of Distinguished Alumni

Helmut Krawinkler

Helmut Krawinkler Ph.D., P.E., N.A.E.

Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni on

Helmut Krawinkler received his Ph.D. degree (1971) in Civil (Structural) Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He also received an M.S. degree (1967) in Civil (Structural) Engineering from California State University in San Jose, and a Dipl. Ing. (1964) in Civil Engineering from the Technical University, Vienna, Austria. After completing his Ph.D., he worked for a year as an Assistant Research Engineer in the Structural Engineering program at Cal. In 1973, he joined the Civil Engineering faculty at Stanford University as an Assistant Professor, rising through the ranks to become the John A. Blume Professor of Engineering in 1991, a position he held until he retired to emeritus status in 2007. While at Stanford, he served as the Director of the Stanford/USGS Institute for Research in Earthquake Engineering and Seismology and as Co-Director of the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center. Professor Krawinkler was born in 1940 and passed away in April 2012 at the age of 72.   

Throughout his career, Professor Krawinkler embraced and promoted new ideas that were often well ahead of their time. In the early 1990s, he pioneered the practical application of nonlinear structural analysis for the seismic assessment and rehabilitation of existing buildings. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, he led the building system performance team of a major project, supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to investigate the seismic safety of buildings where unexpected fractures occurred to welded connections. Starting in 1997, he played a key role in establishing the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center, whose home is at Berkeley. For the next ten years, he championed the PEER Center’s initiative to develop an improved methodology for performance-based earthquake engineering.

Professor Krawinkler’s professional contributions were recognized through many awards, including ASCE’s State-of-the-Art Award, the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Special Achievement Award, and the Applied Technology Council (ATC) Award of Excellence. In 2003, he was elected to the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) College of Fellows, and in 2004 he was named an Honorary Member of SEAONC. Shortly before his death, he was recognized by three of the highest honors in his profession: the 2012 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s George Housner Medal, the 2012 ASCE Earnest E. Howard Award, and election to the National Academy of Engineering. Throughout his entire career, Professor Krawinkler maintained close relationships with, and a deep fondness for, the structural engineering program at Berkeley.