Abstract: This talk presents engineering aspects of the construction and current expansion of the Panama Canal. The Canal was constructed during 1904 to 1914, and has been designated one of ASCE’s “Seven Wonders of the Modern World”. The triumph over engineering obstacles, disease, landslides, floods, and politics represents a hallmark of perseverance and civil engineering skills. The construction involved 262 m yds3 of soil excavation, and 4.5m yds3 of concrete for the locks and dams at cost of $639m , which was under-budget.
The Panama Canal Authority is currently constructing a $5.25 billion canal expansion project to increase capacity and future shipping demands. The expansion involves the construction of two new sets of locks and 39.2m yd3 of dry excavation. Completion is scheduled for 2015.
Frank C. Townsend, PhD., P.E., Frank Townsend was born and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, and had never seen a snowfall until he arrived at Michigan Tech in the fall of 1958. At Michigan Tech, he was active in the Army ROTC, a Distinguished Military Graduate, 4 year varsity rifle team letterman, member of Chi Epsilon, and was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. He received his baccalaureate degree in civil engineering in 1962 from Michigan Tech and PhD from Oklahoma State University (1970). He worked as a Research Civil Engineer at the Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS. He was Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Florida, for 26 years until his retirement in 2005. His service activities include ASCE and ASTM national committees, Tau Beta Pi, and teaching short courses throughout the USA and Latin America.
In 1996, he was inducted into the MTU ACADEMY of Civil & Environmental Engineers.
Dr. Townsend’s father, Wesley Hall Townsend, received a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Tech in 1931. Dr. Townsend and his wife, Marvel, have two children, 2 grandsons, and reside in Gainesville, Florida.