Civil engineers often are charged with shaping infrastructure projects throughout the Granite State. But for Robert “Bob” Henry, it is his shaping of young engineers’ careers that led to being selected as the 2020 Engineer of the Year by the New Hampshire Society of Professional Engineers.
The award is presented to an engineer who has made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession, public welfare and humankind. Henry, an associate professor of civil engineering, was nominated by the Piscataqua Post of the Society of Military Engineers (SAME).
“Bob’s dedication to teaching and his excellence in delivering our curriculum is well evidenced by his 2018 Outstanding Professor award,” says Erin Bell, chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering. “While Bob may not routinely design any new buildings or bridges, he has been, and continues to be, instrumental in shaping the engineers of New Hampshire and beyond.”
During his 40-year career at UNH, Henry has mentored more than a thousand students in an array of courses in computer applications in civil engineering, engineering mechanics, structural analysis, structural dynamics and building information modeling. He also led the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences as the associate dean from 2001 to 2012, when he returned to the faculty. Henry has authored or co-authored nearly 20 publications and served on a plethora of professional societies, but of all the professional opportunities that Henry has enjoyed, he says his work with students is the one that is most rewarding.
“I believe that the impact I have made is seen in the accomplishments of our graduates,” says Henry. “These folks have gone on to become CEOs and presidents of engineering companies, professional engineers, lawyers, doctors and more.”
Henry’s impact on engineering education has gone beyond the UNH classroom and the Granite State. In 2007, he established a STEM-based summer camp for students in grades 6-12 that has grown to serve more than a thousand students since its inception. He’s established a global partnership in 2015 in assisting First Avenue Investment Management of South Africa to develop a one-week STEM-based camp for economically disadvantaged young women in Johannesburg, South Africa. The camp is now in its sixth year due to the help of other UNH faculty, and students and grants from UNH and SAME.