Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.-Ing. E. h. Walter Wittke

A Visionary and Devoted Engineer

The founder of the engineering company WBI - Prof. Wittke - lives for his family and his profession. Following graduation from the Technical University of Hannover he moved to the Technical University of Karlsruhe, where he did his doctorate and habilitation under the supervision of Prof. Leussink. Following his activities as scientific council and Professor in Karlsruhe, he followed the invitation for becoming Professor at the university RWTH Aachen, where he took the chair for foundation engineering, soil mechanics and hydraulic engineering. He expanded the spectrum of the Institute to the areas rock mechanics and tunneling. Driven by his university activities he founded our company WBI in 1980. Moreover Prof. Wittke was various times visiting professor in Madras (India), at the Northwestern University (IL, USA) und the Purdue University (IN, USA).

Within the framework of his research projects and professional work, Prof. Wittke has always put particular emphasis on the implementation of the technical models in practice and particularly to the interaction of structure and ground. As a pioneer in rock mechanics he had started already in the 1970s to develop models for a realistic description of the behavior of rock under consideration of jointing also in numerical analyses. Due to the continuous application of the models for the projects and further development over the years, today we are in the position to describe the bearing behavior of structures in soil and rock in a realistic manner. Thus, we can help to design and construct structures in a safe and economic way.

With a certain pride Prof. Wittke can look back to a great number of projects in national and international context, in which he participated in various roles and helped to successfully complete them. Examples for this are the tunnels of the new high-speed railway line from Cologne to Frankfurt, the caverns Wehr (Baden Württemberg) and Estangento-Sallente in the Spanish Pyrenees, several dams in Mexico, the stabilization of slopes at the federal road B 54 in Herdecke, the protection of the highway A 143 near Halle against sinkholes and the construction pit for the new lock Uelzen II. His expertise and professional ability are highly valued which is also reflected by the fact, that he is the chairman of three experts panels for dams at the Indus river. He also was appointed as an expert for tunneling in the mediation process for the Stuttgart 21 project.

His outstanding position in this science area is confirmed by the fact, that Prof. Wittke has published a vast number of papers in national and international journals, as well as conference proceedings. He is also the editor of the publication series WBI-PRINT. A special attention has to be paid to his standard work „Rock mechanics“, which has been translated into English, Chinese and partially into Russian. An updated new edition of the book is currently elaborated.

That Prof. Wittke is a pioneer in his profession is also pointed out by the fact that he was President of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) from 1979 to 1983 and has chaired for many years the German Geotechnical Society (DGGT). In 2002 he became appointed honorary chairman of the DGGT. It was a special honor to Prof. Wittke, that his home university Hannover awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1998. Furthermore, in 1977 he was awarded the Rock Mechanics Award of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. In 1983 this was followed by the Ruper H. Myers Award in Material Engineering of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. In 1989 he became a member of the Academia Nacional de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Professor honoris causa of the Escuela Militar de Ingenieria, La Paz, Bolivia. In 2002 Prof. Wittke received the Manuel Rocha Award in Lisbon.

Prof Wittke succeeded in transferring his enthusiasm in Engineering to his students and employees. As a consequence, his nephew - Dr.-lng. Claus Erichsen – as well as three of his four children have selected the profession and now work closely with him in the WBI Company. Now he is trying to light this fire of enthusiasm in his grandchildren too.