Distinguished alumnus to be featured speaker at December Commencement
CEE alumnus William F. Baker (MS 80) will salute fall graduates as the featured speaker for the College of Engineering Commencement on December 17.
While widely regarded for his work on supertall buildings, his expertise also extends to a wide variety of structures like the GM Entry Pavilion and Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Pedestrian Bridge. Baker is also known for his work on long-span roof structures, such as the Korean Air Lines Operations Hangar and the Virginia Beach Convention Center, as well as for his collaboration with artists like Jamie Carpenter (Raspberry Island-Schubert Club Band Shell), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With), and James Turrell (Roden Crater).
He arrived at the University of Illinois in fall 1979 as a graduate student with both a vision and a mission. Later, having excelled in his graduate work, he joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. To date, Baker has participated in 62 domestic and 66 international building projects. In addition to his work in connection with the Burj Khalifa, he has served as a structural engineer for the building of Trump International Hotel and Towers in Chicago, Infinity Tower in Dubai, and NATO headquarters in Brussels. These projects, and his dissemination of the knowledge about them, have led to revolutionary improvements in the design and construction of buildings throughout the world.
In addition to working at SOM, Baker is actively involved with numerous institutions of higher learning, as well as various professional organizations. He contributes regularly to structural engineering literature and has published more than 50 articles describing his projects and highlighting both theoretical and applied research focused on optimization, wind effects, and stability.
An active supporter of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, Baker has a passion for education and actively engages with students and faculty to share his knowledge and to promote the engineering profession. He established the Baker Structural Engineering Fund to support a faculty scholar in that field. This past May, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Engineering.
In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Stuttgart, as well as a 2011 ASCE Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Award for Design. Baker is the 2010 recipient of the Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the 2009 recipient and first American to receive the Fritz Leonhardt Preis (Germany). In 2008, the CTBUH awarded him the Fazlur Rahman Khan medal. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of both the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the IStructE, and frequently lectures on a variety of structural engineering topics within the U.S. and abroad.
The College of Engineering December Convocation Ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2011, beginning at 1:00 p.m., in the Foellinger Great Hall of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.