Remembered worldwide for generosity
Professor Peter J. Bosscher died November 18, 2007. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he attended Calvin College and earned his PhD in civil engineering from the University of Michigan. For the next 26 years, he served as an active member of the UW-Madison Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
A geotechnical engineer, Peter studied many aspects related to soil-structure interactions, developed data-collection systems for a variety of applications, and investigated how to incorporate waste materials into materials used in construction.
However, while his professional expertise was in soils and foundations, his career was defined by a passion for helping people. In 2002, to emphasize to students that learning and service go hand in hand, he founded and advised the UW-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a student group that has traveled to Africa, South America, Asia and elsewhere in the United States to help communities build sustainable basic infrastructure systems.
Through his work with EWB, Peter hoped not only to improve residents’ quality of life in those countries, but also to provide his students the opportunity to examine societal, ethical, environmental, economical and cultural impacts of their work as engineers. In those projects, and in his students, Peter’s heart and his desire to make a difference live on.
As part of Engineers Without Borders, an international service organization, Peter Bosscher led UW-Madison volunteer student groups on projects to help build water storage and filtration systems in Rwandan villages. Photo by Jeff Miller.
Building an erosion-control structure at the river crossing of a water pipeline.