Paul Whitfield Horn Professor Kishor Mehta
College of Engineering
Sometimes light bulbs blink on. Sometimes light poles blow over
In 1968, these two seemingly humble events converged for Dr. Kishor Mehta when heavy winds toppled one of the standards that illuminate what was then Jones Stadium.
Mehta, then a civil engineering professor researching reinforced concrete, was intrigued and set out with a team of students to find out what wind load had brought the pole crashing down.
Two years later, a tornado ripped through Lubbock and the stage was set for Mehta - and Texas Tech - to become known the world over for wind engineering research. Mehta and other faculty members were soon documenting wind damages at tornado and hurricane sites across the country.
"We realized that we were doing pioneering work in assessing wind damage," says Mehta, a Horn professor of civil engineering and former director of Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Research Center.
Today, Mehta is recognized internationally as an authority on wind engineering. He has chaired the American Society of Civil Engineer's task committee on wind loads and organized the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering, bringing the event to Lubbock in June, 2003. He also is past chairman of the National Research Council Committee on Natural Disasters, is a member on the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, and spearheaded an initiative that recently led the National Weather Service to adopt a revised version of the Fujita Scale it uses to rate tornadoes.
"It has been a great ride," Mehta laughs. "Even if I never knew ahead of time exactly how our work will be used."