Catherine E. Wolfgram French, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, a recognized leader in the development of building code provisions for structural concrete systems, has been honored by ASCE with inclusion in its 2018 class of Distinguished Members for her significant contributions to the field of structural engineering and her enthusiastic dedication to her undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Minnesota.
French’s work on highway bridges led to an improved understanding of the long-term behavior of prestressed concrete girders, development of systems to facilitate accelerated construction, and field monitoring of bridges such as the I-35 W St. Anthony Falls Bridge over the Mississippi River. She has conducted innovative research to improve the seismic performance of precast building systems and to build on our understanding of the 3D behavior of structural walls. Her work has likewise led to major advances in structural testing capabilities, including the effective force testing method and the development of the Multi-Axis Structural Testing (MAST) facility at UMN.
Also among her contributions are the repair of concrete frame structures after earthquake damage, the seismic strength of concrete shear-walls, the determination of the mechanical properties of high-strength concrete, and bond strength. During her career, her international recognition in the structural engineering community has increased through her cooperation with researchers from Japan and New Zealand on earthquake problems.
As an educator, French has earnestly taught structural engineering courses at the University of Minnesota for more than 34 years and has advised over 75 graduate students. She is a College of Science and Engineering Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering at the university. She has published more than 65 peer-reviewed articles in archival journals and special publications.
Her efforts have been awarded including the ASCE’s Raymond C. Reese Research Prize and Edmund Friedman Young Engineer Award for Professional Achievement. Other awards come from the American Concrete Institute – the Henry L. Kennedy Award for outstanding service and the Reinforced Concrete Research Council’s Arthur J. Boase Award for major contributions to reinforced concrete research – and in 2017 she received the Woman of the Year Award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar (MN).
French has been a board member and president of the ASCE Minnesota Section, president of ACI Minnesota Section, Board member of ACI International, member of ACI Structural Concrete Code Committee 318 and the Transportation Research Board’s AC203. She is also a member of EERI, PCI, and the Minnesota Surveyors and Engineers Society. She earned her doctorate in structural engineering in 1984 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.