Page 41 - Engineering Penn State Magazine: Fall/Winter 2020
P. 41

   Isett Professorship to advance civil and environmental engineering
by Jennifer Matthews
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has received a $1 million estate commitment to establish the Barry and Shirley Isett Professorship in Civil and Environmental Engineering. This gift comes from the generosity of Barry Isett, a 1958 Penn State alumnus in civil engineering, and his wife, Shirley Isett, of Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania.
The endowment will be used to provide vital financial support to an outstanding department faculty member to further their scholarly contributions to teaching, research, and
public service. This support can be used for research expenses; to develop new courses and programs; for education and travel expenses; for administrative assistance; and to provide support for undergraduate and graduate students.
Barry Isett is a member of the National Society
of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was named a Fellow Member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 2005 and served as the northeast regional vice president for NSPE from 2004 to 2006. For this, he was honored with the NSPE Distinguished Service Award in 2014. He was the state chairman of Professional Engineers in Private Practice and served as president of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE) in 1995. He was honored with the Penn State College of Engineering Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2007; the Distinguished Alumni Award from Parkland High School in 2016; and the Engineer of the Year Award by the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers (PSPE)—Lehigh Valley Chapter in 1989. n
Civil engineering alumnus who helped create Nittany Lion Shrine also accomplished WWII veteran by Michael Garrett and Col. Thomas Fasnacht
Col. David E. Pergrin, a Penn Stater who helmed the committee that commissioned the Nittany
Lion Shrine, was also a veteran who served in one of the most decorated U.S. Army units of
World War II.
At the time of the statue’s dedication, on Oct. 24, 1942, Pergrin was training the unit he would
lead in combat: the 291st Engineer Combat Battalion.
Under Pergrin’s command, the 291st Battalion went on to become the single most decorated Army engineer unit of
World War II, receiving the Presidential Unit Citation “for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action.” Pergrin himself received the Silver Star for valor under fire and the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, as well as receiving the Croix de Guerre from the French and Belgian governments.
The legacy of the 291st Battalion was established during two of the most influential battles of the war: the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Remagen, in which Pergrin and his unit’s efforts were indispensable to Allied victory.
Pergrin chronicled his experiences during World War II in two books: “First Across the Rhine” and “Engineering the Victory: The Battle of the Bulge.” The courageous exploits of the 291st Battalion have also been the subject of multiple documentaries, including the History Channel’s “Unsung Heroes of WWII.”
Pergrin enjoyed a long and successful career as a railroad executive upon his return to civilian life. He passed away on April 7, 2012, at the age of 94. n
  In this photo from his book “First Across the Rhine,” Pergrin, third
from the right, stands in front of the bridge he and his unit constructed under
heavy enemy fire during the Battle of Remagen—the longest such bridge constructed during World War II. (Photo credit: Retired Col. Thomas Fasnacht)

   39   40   41   42   43