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CEE alumnus John Huff elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Sunday, October 6, 2013

In October, CEE alumnus John R. Huff '68, will officially be admitted to the prestigious  National Academy of Engineering (NAE), joining more than 2,000 members and 211 foreign associates worldwide. Huff and his fellow 2013 inductees will be officially honored when the NAE convenes its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

“Few people have had as great an impact on the field of deep-water exploration as John,” said Dr. Reginald DesRoches, the Karen and John Huff Chair of the School of Civil Engineering. “Throughout his career, he has demonstrated impeccable instincts and creativity as engineer, a businessman, and a problem-solver.”

The current chairman and retired CEO of Oceaneering, Inc., Huff was recognized by the Academy for his contributions to the development of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for deep-water explorations. Huff originally supported the development of the vehicles as a means to improve the extraction of oil and gas deposits. But he quickly recognized their value in other enterprises.

The ROVs that Oceaneering, Inc., developed have been employed to explore the Titanic, the wreckage of the Challenger capsule, and even the remains of the H.L. Hunley, a Civil War-era submarine.

“Our mission, as a company, was to be ‘the solver of problems in harsh environments,’” he said of his pioneering work with ROVs. “The deep ocean was a harsh environment. The first thing we did was to shift from being a provider of a commodity to being the provider of technical solutions.”

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer, according to NAE president Charles M. Vest. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, engineering literature," and to the "pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Established by Congress in 1964, the NAE  is one of the select National Academies that advise the federal government. It also operates engineering programs that focus on identified national needs and support the furtherance of the profession in research and educational activities.

Three CEE faculty members – Dr. Bruce Ellingwood, Dr. John Crittenden, and Dr. Rafael L. Bras - were previously inducted into the NAE. Institute-wide, 27 faculty have been inducted into the prestigious organization.

In addition to his career, Huff has been a staunch supporter of his alma mater, endowing a chair for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and, more recently, taking a lead in the effort to upgrade the Jesse W. Mason Building. Huff has been involved with numerous boards and associations, including the American Bureau of Shipping Board of Managers, the Coast Guard Academy Foundation, the National Ocean Industries Association, and Strake Jesuit Preparatory.