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Interview with Frederick J. Converse

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Interview in 1978 with Frederick Converse, professor of soil mechanics emeritus, covers his family background in upper New York State, his undergraduate education in engineering at the University of Rochester, and his professional life at Caltech. At Rochester, his mentor was Frederic W. Hinrichs, who later became dean of students at Caltech in its early years. Converse was hired as an instructor in Caltech's engineering division in 1920, by the division's first chairman, Franklin Thomas. A pioneer in civil engineering and an adviser to builders, architects, and contractors, Converse taught one of the earliest courses in the country on soil mechanics and conducted research on the vibration compaction of sands and cohesive soils. He was a leader in professional organizations in his field and consulted for various firms and government agencies, including the United States Navy, the California Division of Architecture, the Kaiser Steel Mill, and Permanente Metals Corp.

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