Ralph Brazelton Peck

Outstanding Alumnus

Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Private Practice, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Civil Engineering Degree, 1934, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Doctor of Civil Engineering Degree, 1937, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Ralph Brazelton Peck joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1942, and worked with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering until his retirement in 1974. In 1948, he and Karl Terzaghi co-authored the most influential geotechnical engineering textbook of the time: Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice. In 1953, he partnered with Walt Hanson and Tom Thornburn to co-author Foundation Engineering, another widely used textbook. Upon retirement, he moved to Albuquerque, where he continued to be active in a consulting practice that spanned 44 states and 28 countries. His projects included the rapid transit systems in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington; the Alaskan Pipeline System; the James Bay Project in Quebec; the Dead Sea Dikes; and the Rion-Antirion Bridge in Greece.


Peck served as president of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from 1969 to 1973. His many honors include the National Medal of Science, Norman Medal, Wellington Prize, and Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from the American Society of Engineers.


Current as of 1978.