Richard C. Benson of Blacksburg, professor and dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was appointed the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting August 27.

The Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean’s Chair in Engineering was established in 2006 by Eric E. Schmidt, chairman and chief executive officer of Google, to honor the Torgersens for their many years of service to Virginia Tech. Paul Torgersen was dean of the College of Engineering from 1970 to 1990 and president of the university from 1993 to 2000.

The dean’s chair, which is the first of its kind at Virginia Tech, will provide discretionary funds for engineering deans to use in developing outstanding academic programs. Benson is the first to hold the chair, which will be passed along to each of his successors.

Benson is an internationally known researcher with expertise in the mechanics of highly flexible structures, including magnetic disks and tapes, paper sheets, soft contact lenses, photographic film, and other easily deformed structures. He came to Virginia Tech in 2005 from Pennsylvania State University, where he headed the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering for 10 years.

Twice honored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), in 1984 Benson received the ASME Henry Hess Award, which honors a research publication by a young author. He became a Fellow of ASME in 1998.

Benson’s teaching interests are in structural mechanics, design, and applied mathematics. In 1981, he was honored as the top teacher in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Rochester.

He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and his master’s degree from the University of Virginia, both in mechanical engineering. He holds a bachelor’s in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,500 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 1,800 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.


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