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

What I love about my profession …
“… maybe it is seeing how a project we planned is coming to life or the pride that I feel when I drive through a tunnel that we helped build. I live for my profession and for my family. While I feel that civil engineering is often undervalued by society, I’m proud to represent a profession that has such a profound impact on the world and is such a powerful enabler for progress.”

After his studies of civil engineering at the Technical University of Hannover and his PhD, habilitation and activity as lecturer at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Walter Wittke became Full Professor and Director of the Institute for Geotechnics, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics and Waterways at the Technical University of Aachen (RWTH), a position he held from 1974 until 2000.

He founded WBI company in 1980 and since then has led the planning, oversight, and expert functions for

  • more than 80 train tunnels with a total length of ~ 290 km,
  • more than 70 street tunnels with a total length of ~ 100 km,
  • more than 25 galleries with a total length of ~ 250 km,
  • more than 60 dams and hydropower plants including powerhouse caverns, and
  • more than 65 geotechnical structures.

Prof. Walter Wittke is a pioneer in rock mechanics. He has laid the foundations for the realistic description of rock mass properties and of the ground-structure-interaction, as well as their realistic modeling with the finite element method, and thus for the economic and safe design of structures in rock. The connection of theory and practice is what he always aims at.

He has been awarded

  • the Rock Mechanics Award of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers,
  • the Rupert H. Myers Award in Material Engineering from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia,
  • the Manuel Rocha Medal of the LNEC in Lisbon, Portugal,
  • an honorary doctorate of the University of Hannover,
  • an honorary professor position of the Escuela Militar de Ingenieria, MCAL Antonio Jose de Sucre, La Paz, Bolivia
  • the function of a corresponding member of the Academia Nacional de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales of the Republic of Argentina.

He was head of the rock mechanics section of the German Society for Geotechnical Engineering from 1972 to 1991, and President of the same society from 1991 to 2002. From 1979 to 1983, Prof. Wittke was ISRM president. He has contributed to various professional bodies and elaborated numerous publications.
Prof. Wittke completed post-graduate studies at the University of California in Berkeley and served as visiting Professor at multiple international universities including the Department of Civil Engineering at Northwestern University, USA, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India, and at Purdue University, USA.

Above all, however, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Walter Wittke is a civil engineer and entrepreneur by conviction.