"Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer," says a press release e-mailed by Karen Spaulding, director of the NAE's membership office. The group was founded in 1964 and provides expertise to the federal government "to investigate, examine, experiment and report upon any subject of science or art," according to the 1863 law establishing the National Academy of Sciences — the law that is also the NAE's charter.
A person can't apply for membership but must be nominated by another member of the academy, with references from at least three other members. To be inducted, a member must have made significant contributions to engineering.
Youd, a resident of Orem , was cited "for contributions to liquefaction hazard assessment, leadership in earthquake engineering, and service to the government and educational communities."
It's not as if this is a lifetime achievement award for an expert whose career has run its course. Youd says his wife remarked that he doesn't seem retired, with the projects he continues to pursue.
Often called "Les Youd," he has headed the Utah Seismic Safety Commission. His professorship is in the BYU Department of Civil Engineering.
Before starting at BYU about 20 years ago, he worked with the U.S. Geological Survey at Menlo Park, Calif. While with the agency, he and his fellows "did a lot of drilling and investigating" to identify areas that could liquefy during earthquakes.
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