Lessons from David Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Princeton Professor David Billington died on March 25, 2018 at the age of 90. David was a structural engineer, scholar, and a master teacher. He taught two courses at Princeton University. By Princeton standards these were very large courses, impacting as many as 20% of all students graduating from Princeton from the mid-1990's until he retired in 2010. One course was "Structures in the Urban Environment"and it focused on structural artists - engineers who designed efficient, economical, and elegant structures. The other course was "Engineering in the Modern World"and it focused on the history of engineering from the time of the American Revolution to the present day. Both courses are still being taught by his colleagues, Prof. Maria Garlock and Prof. Michael Littman. This article is about David's approach to educating the general public and engineers as described by Michael Littman, who co-taught the "Engineering in the Modern World"course with him for over 20 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • David Billington
  • Engineering education
  • History of engineering
  • Teaching to a diverse audience


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