Harold Force

President and CEO, Force Construction Co., Inc.
Executive Vice President, Force Design, Inc.
BSCE '73; MSCE '74

For his contributions to the study and practice of civil engineering and his dedication to Purdue University

Harold Force has been a practicing civil engineer for 35 years, but the profession has not lost its allure. "I still consider civil engineering to be a 'Candyland' of opportunities and options," Force says.

Force, whose family owned a construction company in southern Indiana, knew by 8th grade that he wanted to be a civil engineer. As an undergraduate and then master's student at Purdue, he honed his skills for a future in the family business, particularly in the areas of soils, structures, and business. From his teenage years, he worked at various jobs in the operation, starting as a field laborer and equipment operator, and then moving into responsibilities as a design engineer and, eventually, vice president of operations. He joined the company full time in 1974 after completing his studies at Purdue and was named president of Force Construction in 1980.

Force has witnessed the growth of civil engineering over the years, using his firsthand knowledge to help advise the School of Civil Engineering as a member and chair of its Advisory Board. It is a much broader and more complex field than it was during his student days in the 1970s, Force says. Analytical tools today are more sophisticated and powerful. Much analysis is computer-based, even down to the molecular level of the chemistry involved. "There are things considered a normal part of civil engineering practice that we could only have imagined 35 years ago," he says.

One of the ways in which Force has influenced change at Purdue can be seen in the emerging architectural engineering emphasis of the civil engineering curriculum. This was driven, in part, by his own experience with Force Design, Inc., which offers engineering and architectural design services for the company's design-build projects. The new area of study was a response, as well, to students who sought study and practice that involved the interface of architecture and civil engineering with building design and construction. The Bowen Laboratory for large-scale civil engineering research was also the result of collaboration among civil engineering advisory board members, faculty, and key donors during Force's tenure as chairman.

Whether championing new areas of study at Purdue, overseeing nearly 200 projects for Japanese and Japanese joint venture companies establishing operations in Indiana and the United States, or presiding over the Columbus, Indiana, Economic Development Board, Force has found a myriad of ways to contribute to a profession that continues to intrigue him.

"So many of the challenges facing society can be addressed through the practice of civil engineering. There is no greater career satisfaction than applying civil engineering knowledge and experience to successfully and profitably solve the problem at hand," he says.

Career Highlights

1980-present Force Construction Co., Inc.
2000 Achievement Award, Purdue School of Civil Engineering
1977-present Executive Vice President, Force Design, Inc.
1997 Engineer of the Year
Indiana Society of Professional Engineers, James B. Eads Chapter
1976-1980 Executive Vice President of Operations
Force Construction Co., Inc.
1974-76 Design Engineer
Force Construction Company
1967-73 Field laborer and equipment operator
Force Construction Company

MSCE '74, Purdue University
BSCE '73, Purdue University