The Chi Epsilon chapter at the University of Missouri-Rolla will play host to more than 240 civil engineering students from across the nation during the 39th conclave March 9-11.
This will be the third time the civil engineering honor society will hold the biennial national meeting at UMR, as well as the third time a UMR chapter member has received the society’s highest award.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert D. Bay of Chesterfield, Mo., a 1949 UMR graduate, will become the honor society’s 58th National Honor Member. The award is based on a member’s distinguished civil engineering accomplishments and outstanding contributions to the object and purpose of Chi Epsilon, an organization founded in 1922 to exemplify the traits of scholarship, character, practicality, and sociability. Bay will join an elite group that includes Enoch Needles, a 1914 UMR graduate and the 26th National Honor Member, and Leif J. Sverdrup, a UMR chapter honor member and the 39th National Honor Member.
Bay developed an interest and proficiency in civil engineering at an early age. By the time he was 20 years old, he was helping construct a military base camp in the Philippines for 50,000 soldiers. After serving voluntarily in the U.S. Army during World War II, he completed his civil engineering degree at UMR and then served as chief office engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helping construct the Chain of Rocks Lock and Canal in St. Louis, the largest twin locks ever built at the time.
Bay was jointly responsible for the patented design used in the 11 million-gallon Clear Water Basin at the St. Louis Chain of Rocks Plant. He was also involved in the design of patented deformed wire fabric used in continuous highway pavements and the composite floor joists used in the World Trade Center that was noted to save thousands of lives by holding up under intense heat.
After his work with the Corps, Bay soon became a designer for the Laclede Steel Co. in St. Louis, progressing to the position of principal and director of technical services.
By the time Bay retired from his service in the active and reserve forces of the Corps of Engineers in 1983, he had commanded the 416th ENCOM, the highest level of engineering command in the U.S. armed forces. During his military career, Bay received the Distinguished Service Medal, the second highest military honor, for his leadership during the Cuban refugee crisis in the early 1980’s to provide housing for more than 120,000 refugees. He also helped to change Army policy concerning the use of civilian engineer reservists to relieve regulars for other duties during the Cuban crisis.
The conclave will also include general sessions, committee meetings and a mini job fair. Speakers will include Dr. Robert T. Berry, vice president of Burns and McDonnell Engineering Co. in St. Louis and a UMR graduate; Dr. John F. Carney III, UMR chancellor; Robert Nichols, president emeritus of Freese and Nichols Inc. Consulting Engineers; and Roddy Rogers, director of water engineering for City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., and a UMR graduate.