Inaugural Carl A. Westerdahl Forum Oct. 16

Troy, N.Y. — The Friends of the Folsom Library at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have announced the inaugural Carl A. Westerdahl Forum, which will take place Thursday, Oct. 16, on the Rensselaer campus. The two-part program is titled “Making the Connection: Rensselaer Graduates Who Built Bridges over the Hudson.” The program will highlight the role Rensselaer alumni played in the growth of bridge design in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The featured speaker will be Frank Griggs, engineer, bridge restorer, and historian. Griggs, a resident of Rexford, N.Y., who graduated from Rensselaer in 1956, is former professor and chair of civil engineering at Merrimack College and former director of historic bridge programs for Clough, Harbour & Associates. He has restored many 19th century cast and wrought iron bridges, and written more than 100 papers on the history of civil engineering, bridges, and engineers.

Joining Griggs as panelists will be Chris Letchford, head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer, and George Christian, a Rensselaer alumnus who served as state bridge engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation.

The two-part program will begin with a lunchtime presentation, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Russell Sage Dining Hall, during which Griggs will lead a discussion titled “Civil Engineering Training at Rensselaer in the late 1800s.” Lunch will be available at a cost of $8; no cost to Rensselaer students.

The evening presentation, titled “Crossing the Hudson: Capital Region Bridges,” will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Auditorium. A dessert reception will follow the talk. There is no cost for the evening event.

The Carl A. Westerdahl Forum memorializes the creative contributions made by Carl A. Westerdahl (1937-2013), longtime member of the Rensselaer staff and the Friends of the Folsom Library board, through programs that explore education, history, art, architecture, engineering, and science as they relate to Rensselaer.

For more information about the program, or to RSVP, contact Adrienne Birchler, Folsom Library, (518) 276-8329, or via email at:, or visit