Legacy of “Pops” Steiner
It is hard to imagine that the impact
of an individual whose term as dean of the College of Engineering
ended more than 50 years before most of the Class of 2007
were born could still be felt. But it’s true.
he graduated in 1899 with a degree in civil engineering,
Rev. Thomas A. Steiner, C.S.C., was also a member of the
University’s first varsity basketball team. He worked
for the Illinois Central and Big Four Railroads after graduation
and returned to the University in 1911 to teach. Entering
the novitiate in 1914, he joined the civil engineering faculty
shortly after his ordination in 1918.
During his 10 years
as dean, Steiner made a great impact on the course of the
College of Engineering and the University. The Cushing Hall
of Engineering was built and dedicated during his tenure.
(It replaced the original engineering structure that had
been severely damaged by a fire during his first year as
dean.) He was also instrumental in the development of a new
steam and water pumping plant and the plan to solve some
of the University’s heating problems by placing conduits
in a concrete tunnel system that would carry heat around
An ardent supporter of the inclusion of liberal arts
studies in engineering programs, Father Steiner believed
this type of two-pronged approach offered students a broader
outlook and gave them greater versatility. He was truly concerned
about students in the college.
The feeling was mutual: In
1948, former students of “Pops” Steiner established
the Rev. Thomas A. Steiner Awards in his memory. This prize
is presented annually to seniors who exhibit a dedication
to the application of engineering principles, a zeal for
learning, outstanding leadership qualities, and a commitment
to the values and tenets of the University. Nominated by
their individual departments, Steiner recipients are selected
on the basis of their cumulative grade-point averages, campus
activities, and community service.
The 2007 recipients of
the Steiner Prize are Michael Gerardi, electrical engineering;
Rebecca Ladewski, chemical and biomechanical engineering;
David Lettieri, aerospace and mechanical engineering; Andrew
Magee, computer science and engineering; Patrick
Murren, civil engineering and geological sciences; and David
Rowinski, aerospace and mechanical engineering. They are the current-day
examples of the well-rounded individuals “Pops” Steiner
hoped to encourage in the pursuit of a career in engineering.