Roger Hawken

Roger William Hercules Hawken (12 May 1878 – 18 October 1947), an Australian engineer, was the first lecturer in Civil Engineering, and then a professor, at the University of Queensland. [ [ Australian Dictionary of Biography] ]

Hawken was born at Darlington, New South Wales, the son of Nicholas Hawken, and was educated at Newington College (1893-1896) [Newington College Register of Past Students 1863-1998 (Syd, 1999) pp85] and the University of Sydney (B.C.E., 1900; B.A., 1902). [ [ Alumni Sydneienses] ]

Professor Hawken was involved in the founding of IEAust in 1919 and was its president in 1923 and a councillor till his death. At his suggestion in 1928, Queensland became the first state to legislate for compulsory registration of consulting engineers. The major engineering building and library at the University of Queensland is named in his honour, as is Hawken Drive, a road leading to the main UQ campus at St Lucia, Queensland. The annual Hawken address, presented by the Queensland division of IEAust, is usually held in its Hawken Auditorium.

Hawken's academic bent was evident by 1903 in a remarkably advanced paper to the Sydney University Engineering Society on the structural analysis of bridges. He graduated M.C.E. from Sydney in 1918 after submitting a thesis on column design, a frontier topic of the period, and appears to have had slightly the better of a lively argument with the eminent English engineer, E. H. Salmon, who had written an authoritative text on the subject. In the 1920s he turned again to earth pressures and the stability of slopes; he thus was one of the pioneers of the study of soil mechanics, a subject generally neglected until the 1950s. In later work on rainfall runoff and flooding potential and the economic appraisal of engineering schemes, his ideas were well ahead of his time.

Professor Hawken was reserved but excessively formal, with a wry, sometimes biting sense of humour. Engineering and the University was his life. He saw the complete engineer as a combination of wide experience and wide culture, encouraged originality in his students, called himself the 'senior student' and was known as 'hanks'.

His work included design of an early version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that did not proceed to construction, and identification of crossing points for the Brisbane River. He was involved in many major Brisbane projects including an early Victoria Bridge (the abutment is still standing near QPAC) and the Story Bridge. In 2006, Brisbane City Council proposed Hawken Bridge as one of 5 names for a new green bridge linking the University of Queensland to Dutton Park but ended up chosing the name Eleanor Schonell Bridge.


External links

* D. H. Trollope, [ Hawken, Roger William Hercules (1878 - 1947)] , Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, MUP, 1983, pp 230-231.

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