Published: May 24, 2000

Hon-Yim Ko, professor and chairman of the department of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at CU-Boulder, has been awarded the Glenn Murphy Chair in Engineering based on his excellent record of teaching, research and service.

The endowment was established by an alumnus of the civil engineering department, Glenn L. Murphy, who went on to a distinguished career at Iowa State University where he headed the department of nuclear engineering. Murphy received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CU-Boulder in 1929 and 1930, respectively.

Murphy established a trust to benefit the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder before his death in 1978, but this is the first time the endowed chair has been awarded to an individual faculty member.

Ko, who has been on the faculty since 1967, has served as chairman of his department from 1983 to 1990, and from 1998 to present. He is known for his work in similitude and model analysis of earthen structures – an area that was also of interest to Murphy in the latter part of his career when he worked on a model study of Hoover Dam.

Ko uses a 400 g-ton centrifuge, which is among the most powerful centrifuges in the Western world, to simulate the behavior of full-sized earthen and concrete dams under stress. He has conducted a wide variety of experiments with students and colleagues over the years, ranging from dam safety and the interactions of giant anchors with the sea floor to the behavior of lunar-like soil overlying tubular or spherical structures.

Ko received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hong Kong in 1962, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the California Institute of Technology in 1963 and 1966, respectively. He has received a number of honors and awards, including teaching and research awards from the College of Engineering, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Huber Research Prize and the Colorado Engineering Council Gold Medal.