Growing up in his native South Korea, Arthur Hawnn studied English with the hope one day of traveling to the United States. During the Korean War, he put his studies to good use, serving as an interpreter on the front lines of the conflict for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Hawnn caught the attention of Capt. Arthur Peterson, a Marine company commander who also served as a UW-Eau Claire professor and a state lawmaker. Peterson encouraged Hawnn to travel to the United States to study, and sponsored a legislative scholarship that paid for Hawnn’s tuition.
Hawnn enrolled at UW-Madison in 1955, and took an interest in civil engineering. He worked his way through college, sometimes working as many as four jobs at one time to help defray his expenses. Among his jobs: spending fall afternoons scraping off the opaque coating that plant pathologists at the university painted on greenhouses to shade plants from the summer sun.
Hawnn graduated from UW-Madison with a BS in civil engineering in 1959, and went on to earn his MS (1960) and PhD (1962) from the university in civil engineering.
In 1962, Hawnn founded his own company — Arthur F. Hawnn International — in Springfield, VA. The company provides consulting work in areas such as transportation, urban development and water resources management.
Since 1974, Hawnn has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, where he has worked on transportation projects, design and construction of facilities, and systems development. He currently serves as a senior civil engineer and project manager for the Department of Defense. He has won nine awards from the Department of the Army for his outstanding performance on projects, and is a member of the American Society for Civil Engineers.
Hawnn has served as an associate professor of civil engineering at Ohio State University and Marquette University, and as a visiting lecturer for the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been an advisor the Wisconsin governors on transportation issues and worked on waterway systems development in Calcutta, India, through the United Nations Development Program. He has won nine awards from the Department of the Army for his outstanding performance on projects and is a member of several national organizations, including the American Society for Civil Engineers.
In 2002, Hawnn established a $2 million charitable remainder trust that will help finance two professorships in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The first, the Peterson-Rader-Hawnn Professorship in Civil and Environmental Engineering, honors Marine Capt. Peterson and his wife Connie, CEE Professor Lloyd Rader and his wife, Helen, and Hawnn’s parents. The second, the Arthur F. Hawnn Professorship in Transportation, was established to honor Hawnn’s work in the transportation field and encourage other alumni to remember their obligations to the university.