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Engineer and Educator Andrew C. Palmer Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree
The degree was awarded "for his exceptional contributions to pipeline and offshore engineering, his years of dedicated guidance of students of engineering, and his notable successes as both an academician and a businessman."
Palmer began his address to the class of 2007 by telling a story about a newspaper that decided to ask three ambassadors what they would like to see for Christmas and the New Year. "I would like to see the triumph of a free enterprise system, victory over atheism and communism," remarked the American ambassador. "The triumph of socialism, power to the workers, liberation of people suffering under imperialism," said the ambassador of the former Soviet Union. "Well, that is very kind. I would rather like to see a box of crystallized fruit," replied the British ambassador.
Palmer told that story as a way of informing the graduates that though he may not have the expected uplifting and instructive graduation message for them, he would leave them with three thoughts: "When you look back on your life, you don't regret the things you have done, only the things you haven't done," he said. Second was a quote from the author, T. H. White: "When you feel unhappy, the remedy is to learn something new." His final thought was an inspiration from George Fox, one of founders of the Society of Friends - the Quakers. Fox went on a mission to South Wales and climbed to the top of a mountain, where he had a religious experience. Descending from the mountain, he gave a sermon and told the faithful, "Go cheerfully through the world and speak to that of God in every man." Palmer said he wasn't certain he could define God, "but I can say to you, go cheerfully and speak to that of goodness in every man."
Palmer is the world's leading authority on the incremental movement of pipes on the sea bed as a result of cyclic pressure and temperature changes - an area in which his knowledge of soil mechanics, stability theory and non-linear analysis makes him a unique expert. He is also known for his contributions to pipelines and the offshore industry, his work as a professor of engineering and his successes in engineering consulting.
He spent the next 10 years in research and teaching at the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University. In the 1970s, Palmer became interested in pipelines. His initial work was on the problem of differential settlement induced by thawing permafrost as part of design studies for the Alaska Pipeline. He later examined structural questions in the construction of the Forties Pipeline in the North Sea.
Palmer joined R.J. Brown and Associates, the leading consultant in underwater pipelines, in 1975. He worked on underwater plows, ice mechanics and new techniques for Arctic pipeline construction. He was the project manager for the first Arctic offshore pipeline, built off the coast of Melville Island in Canada.
In 1985, Palmer founded Andrew Palmer and Associates, a company of consulting engineers who specialize in marine pipelines and have been engaged in pipeline projects on every continent. After selling his company in 1993, Palmer remained as technical director until he returned to university teaching as Jafar Research Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Cambridge University in 1996. He was a visiting professor in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University in 2002-2003. Palmer retired from Cambridge in 2005 and is now Keppel Chair Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the National University of Singapore.
Palmer is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Chartered Engineer, a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a member of the Academy of Experts.
Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.
Photo caption: palmer2.jpg Andrew Palmer (left) University Trustee Lawrence Delaney (center) and Clarkson University President Tony Collins (right). palmer3.jpg Palmer speaks at commencement. palmer.jpg Palmer.