The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Emeritus Professor Alan Lutenegger Caps off Brilliant Career in CEE Department

Alan Lutenegger

Alan Lutenegger

Recently retired Emeritus Professor Dr. Alan J. Lutenegger, P.E.F. ASCE of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has established himself as a highly accomplished academic in the field of geotechnical engineering during his long and productive career. To begin with, he is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a distinction awarded to just three percent of the 150,000 members. Among many other achievements, he has generated upwards of $11,300,000 in funding as a principal and co-principal investigator on approximately 44 grants, he holds 10 U.S. patents, and he has published an impressive 180 papers in academic journals.

Beyond that, Lutenegger has been the advisor for nearly 50 graduate students at Clarkson University (Potsdam, New York) and UMass, he’s written 12 technical research reports, he has given more than 60 invited lectures and oral presentations at conference and symposium proceedings, and he’s been invited to give four keynote lectures. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the behavior of helical piles and anchors, which are now being used to support wind turbines, solar panel systems, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

To top off all those successes, Lutenegger has published three far-reaching books: Lutenegger, A.J., 2019, Soils and Geotechnology in Construction, Taylor-Francis Publishers, London; Lutenegger, A.J., 2020, In Situ Testing Techniques in Geotechnical Engineering (in press by Taylor-Francis Publishers, London); and Lutenegger, A.J., 2021, Design of Helical Piles and Helical Anchors (in press by Taylor-Francis Publishers, London).

Born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1952, Lutenegger earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering, as well as his B.S. in Construction Engineering, from Iowa State University in Ames.

In 1984, he was hired by Clarkson University as an associate professor, having bypassed the usual entry level position of assistant professor, because of his experience. From 1984 to 1988, Lutenegger served as an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson.

He came to the UMass CEE department in 1989 as an associate professor and was appointed a full professor in 1995. Meanwhile, he took over as the area coordinator of the Geotechnical Engineering Program (1992-1997) and the site manager of the U.S. National Geotechnical Experimentation Site (1992-2010). Later he was appointed the CEE’s interim department head for 1997 and 1998 and served as department head from 2000 till 2006. Together with Dr. Don DeGroot, who arrived at UMass six months after Lutenegger, they built one of the best Geotechnical Engineering programs in the country.

Among his awards and other accomplishments, Lutenegger was a visiting scientist in 1982 at the Geotechnical Laboratory of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Russe, Bulgaria. Lutenegger was also the 1991 UMass College of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award winner and the 2009 Tighe Teaching Award winner in the CEE department.

In addition, Lutenegger has been a reviewer for ASTM Special Technical Publications, ASCE Geotechnical Specialty Publications, the Transportation Research Record, the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, the Geotechnical and Geological Engineering Proceedings of the ICE: Geotechnical Engineering, Engineering Geology, the Geotechnical Testing Journal, and the ASTM  Journal of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering. He has also been an editorial board member for the ASCE Geotechnique International Journal of Geotechnical Engineering.

Meanwhile, Lutenegger has consulted for some 25 diverse organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration, other federal and state agencies, the Iowa Geological Survey Bureau, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and the General Motors Corporation. He has also been an expert witness on a number of lawsuits totaling over $20 million and has only served on the side of the defendants.

Beyond his academic career, Lutenegger held down such practical jobs as working for the Patzig Testing Laboratories in Des Moines, Iowa, as a geotechnical engineer from 1979 to 1982, and operating heavy equipment such as scrapers and crawler dozers for Jack A. Schroder Construction in Burlington during the summers from 1970 to1975, a job which peaked his early interest in soils and geotechnical engineering.

In all, Professor Lutenegger has been one of the most prolific faculty members in the long and storied history of the CEE department.

As CEE Department Head John Tobiason explains, “Professor Alan Lutenegger’s contributions to the CEE Department, the College of Engineering, UMass Amherst, students, colleagues, and the profession have been remarkable in breadth and excellence. His teaching and research were always rooted in the practice of geotechnical engineering, leading to significant advances in helical pile and anchor construction based on fundamental testing and experience. 

Tobiason adds about Lutenegger that “His service as CEE department head is greatly appreciated. I am sure Al will continue to be an active contributor to geotechnical engineering as he enters post-academic life. We thank him greatly for his over three decades of work on the UMass CEE faculty and wish him the very best for the future.”