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O’Rourke joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1974, after serving as instructor and professor for four years at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. An active researcher at Rensselaer, he has led 18 snow loading research projects sponsored by different organizations, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), National Bureau of Standards, and Metal Building Manufacturers Association.

In collaboration with his students and colleagues, O’Rourke has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed journal papers and conference proceedings on the topic of snow loading. In his time at Rensselaer, O’Rourke has advised 61 master’s degree students and 10 doctoral students – 22 of those theses were on different aspects of snow loading on building roofs. O’Rourke recently completed the ASCE Snow Guide for the 2010 version of the ASCE 7 Load Standard. Primarily written for practicing structural engineers, the book presents design examples of the proper application of code provisions related to snow loading. The book also includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section with advice on snow load issues not covered by the code, such as drift loads for unusual roof geometries.

O’Rourke has been chair of the ASCE 7 Snow and Rain Loads Committee since 1997, and a member since 1978. He was a co-organizer of the first two International Snow Engineering Conferences, the organizer of the sixth, and served on the organizing committee for many others. He is an associate editor of the ASCE Natural Hazards Review, and was editor of the Proceedings of the 4th U.S. Conference on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering. In 2001 he received the ASCE C. Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering Award.

Dr. Michael O'Rourke
Professor of Civil Engineering
Title Sponsor(s)
Full-Scale Investigation of Wind-Induced Vibrations of Mast-Arm Traffic Signal Research and Innovative Technology Administration / USDOT (RITA)