Michael Vorster honored with emeritus status

Michael Vorster

Michael Vorster

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 30, 2010 – Michael Vorster, David H. Burrows Professor of Construction Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the "David H. Burrows Professor Emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

In 1986, Vorster was recruited to Virginia Tech to create and direct the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s undergraduate and graduate programs in construction engineering and management. During his 23-year tenure, he was instrumental in a number of the program’s successes, including the Vecellio family donation of $1 million to the civil and environmental engineering program, and the 2005 naming gift to start the Myers-Lawson School of Construction.

In 1998, Vorster was awarded the David H. Burroughs Professorship, recognizing his eminent teaching and sustained and distinguished scholarship. Burroughs, a 1942 Virginia Tech engineering graduate, was president of the Virginia Road Builders Association in 1962, and spent two years as chair of the Virginia Registration Board of Contractors.

Vorster is recognized as an international expert in the civil and environmental engineering field, with specific emphasis on applications of engineering economics to construction machinery. He has personally directed or co-directed externally funded research grants and contracts totaling more than $5 million, with such funding providing the means for Vorster to support numerous graduate students.

Among his numerous awards, the National Academy of Construction inducted him as a member in 1990. Members of this academy are considered to “be industry leaders whose present or past professional career over a period of years demonstrates outstanding contributions to the engineering and construction industry.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded Vorster its Faculty of the Year Award in 2000 and the Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize for a Research Publication in 1992. The latter is an award given to recognize the best scholarly publication in a given year within the society’s construction engineering and management journal. The Construction Industry Institute, a leading organization of its kind in the United States, gave him its Outstanding Research Award in 1995. The State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) presented its 2003 Outstanding Faculty Award to Vorster.

At Virginia Tech, he received the Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence in 2001, Certificates of Teaching Excellence from the College of Engineering in 1993 and in 1999, a Dean's Award for Excellence in Service in 1999, and the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s 2004 Alumni Teaching Excellence Award. He is a member of the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Vorster served as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering from 1993 until 1997. While he was associate dean, he still taught each semester, played a significant role in the development of the Green Engineering program in the college, as well as the plans to open the college’s Joseph F. Ware Jr. Advanced Engineering Laboratory, a space devoted entirely to student design team projects in engineering.

Vorster received his bachelor’s degree and his masters from the University of Cape Town. He earned his doctorate in engineering from the University of Stellenbosch.