Raymond H. Plaut of Blacksburg, the D.H. Pletta Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, was conferred the "professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting on Nov. 3.
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who have given exemplary service to the university and who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
Plaut served Virginia Tech’s civil and environmental engineering department for 33 years. He was hired in 1975 as the university’s youngest full professor at that time.
Plaut taught courses in the analysis, stability, and dynamics of structures. His research topics included the use of inflatable structures for flood control, optimal structural design for stability, detection of cracks in rotating shafts, stability of suitcases with wheels, the potential use of ropes to reduce structural response to earthquakes, analysis and testing of the peeling of adhesive tapes and bandages from human skin, the use of adhesives to prevent roof uplift during hurricanes, the behavior of temporary tent-like hangars supported by inflatable arches, the effectiveness of a new type of vibration absorber, a study of the cause of the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the response of tents and building frames to blast loads, the application of geosynthetic layers over columns in soft soil to strengthen embankments, and the design of insulated joints in railroad tracks.
Plaut is internationally known for his research in the use of inflatable dams to prevent loss of life and property during floods. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Plaut investigated effective uses of inflatable dams and breakwaters to provide flood control for shorelines, towns, homes, and critical facilities such as water treatment plants and nuclear power plants. He has been interviewed on The Weather Channel, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and CNN. His research has been cited by the London Sunday Times, several newspapers in Asia, and the Environmental News Network's website.
He has a long and distinguished list of awards, including the 1998 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Plaut received both the Alumni Association W.E. Wine Award for Excellence in Teaching and the association's Award for Research Excellence. He has received five University Certificates of Teaching Excellence and the James M. Robbins Excellence in Teaching Award from the Cumberland District of the national civil engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon. In 1979, he was elected to the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence. He received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter’s 2006 Faculty Excellence Award. He also received it in 1978.
He previously taught at the University of Nottingham, England, for one year and at Brown University for seven years. He also spent a one-year sabbatical at the Technical University of Denmark.
He received his bachelor’s degree the California Institute of Technology and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.