Civil and environmental engineering professor emeritus DAVID BILLINGTON ’50 died March 25 in Los Angeles. He was 90. Billington came to Princeton as a lecturer in 1958, joined the faculty in 1960, and retired in 2010.
Engineering professor Maria Garlock said Billington showed that engineering is a creative discipline — even a form of art. He humanized engineering in speaking of those who designed great structures, she said, and he inspired people — engineers, students, and the public — through books, lectures, and art exhibitions designed for a general audience.
He created popular courses, including “Engineering and the Modern World” and “Structures and the Urban Environment,” that helped bridge the gap between engineering and the liberal arts. At the time of his retirement, it was estimated that at least a quarter of all students had taken one of his courses.
In 2015 Billington was awarded an honorary degree from Princeton. “[H]e introduced us to the engineering pioneers who revolutionized the world and opened our eyes to the creativity of engineering at its best,” the degree citation read.