Prize in the Civil Engineering Section
Anton Schleiss has been a professor at EPFL since 1997. During that time, he has helped generations of students transition to the professional world with the knowledge and confidence they need to take on new challenges. Professor Schleiss has been awarded the 2016 prize in the Civil Engineering section for excellence in teaching.
The enthusiastic professor specializes in hydraulic constructions and structures. “The first time students take one of my courses, they quickly realize that I know what I’m talking about. Before teaching at EPFL,” he explained, “I worked for 11 years in an internationally renowned engineering firm in Zurich.” Thanks to his extensive experience in the field, and as he is still frequently consulted as an expert for water infrastructure projects in Switzerland and abroad, Professor Schleiss is able to pass along the finer points of the discipline and the tricks of the trade. In all his courses, he has students solve real-life problems, using actual dimensions and calculations, and encourages them to regularly update their spreadsheets so they can use them later on in their career. “They have to be able to do their own work. I’m a demanding professor, and I think that at EPFL, we have to set the bar high. After all, students who graduate with a degree in civil engineering can start their own business straight out of school. We have a major responsibility.”
Professor Schleiss provides his students with a comprehensive overview of civil engineering. “To manage complex projects, I think it is absolutely crucial for them to have a solid base in the many aspects of the field before they specialize. This includes hydraulics, structures, soil and rock mechanics and transportation systems, but also construction law and socioeconomics. It’s often where those areas intersect that you run into problems. Since our students have a broad understanding of the field, they are better prepared to identify a project’s crucial aspects and achieve consensus, so that everyone is satisfied.”
As the director of the Civil Engineering section from 2006 to 2012, Professor Schleiss modernized the way the program is taught, reforming the curriculum to meet the needs of the profession. Today he teaches an impressive number of courses: Hydraulic structures and schemes at the undergraduate level, Organization, economics and construction law I and II, Dams and appurtenant hydraulic structures, Fluvial hydraulics and river training works, Hydraulic and hydroelectric structures and schemes, and River eco-morphology at the Master’s level, and finally Hydropower and dams: benefits and concerns, for PhD students. Outside of teaching, Professor Schleiss is the director of the Laboratory of Hydraulic Constructions (LHC). To date, he has advised nearly 60 PhD and post-doc students in their projects.