Lehigh University bridge engineering professor emeritus dies at 88

Ben T. Yen, an acclaimed structural engineering researcher and professor emeritus in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lehigh University, has died. He was 88.


Many of Pennsylvania’s bridges in use around Bethlehem, Allentown, and Easton bear his mark. In fact, he led highly popular tours of the bridges throughout the area.

Yen, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, also led a prolific research career focused on structure and bridge evaluation and repair. He joined the Lehigh engineering faculty in the mid-1960s after completing degrees there. When he retired in 2001, he continued his service as a mentor, endowing the Yen Family Fellowship, which has supported numerous graduate students pursuing advanced research.

He was extensively published over the years, as well as serving as an international lecturer and a consultant for both private companies and public entities. A research faculty member of the Engineering Research Center for Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems, his work helped lay the groundwork for Lehigh’s ATLSS Infrastructure Monitoring Program.

“All of us who knew Ben were fortunate to experience his infectious smile, his inviting and ever-helpful personality, his true intellect, and his love for his family and his students,” said Shamim Pakzad, associate professor and interim CEE department chair in a message to faculty and staff.

In 2015, Yen, a Life Member of ASCE, was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society’s Lehigh Valley Section.

Yen’s distinguished career at Lehigh, his generosity toward the institution, and his pride in its structural engineering research and education will be remembered by his colleagues and students, including the dozens of graduate engineering students who were his mentees.

He was born in Canton, China, and earned his B.S. from National Taiwan University. He received a master of science and a doctorate from Lehigh University in 1958 and 1963, respectively. Yen was a member of Cathedral Church of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.


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