Cornelis Benjamin Biezeno

From 16-year-old student to rector magnificus

Cornelis Biezeno was sixteen years old when he started studying mechanical engineering in Delft in 1904. Three years later he graduated cum laude from what was then still called the ‘Technische Hogeschool’. Biezeno became assistant at the department of Mechanical Engineering and subsequently at the department of Mathematics. He did not obtain a doctorate, but his scientific achievements did not remain unnoticed.

At the age of 26, Biezeno was appointed professor of applied mechanics, a position
he held from 1914 to 1928. The following year, he left for the Dutch East Indies: there was a vacancy for him at the first college of what is now Indonesia. He spent a year as a professor at the Bandung Technical College before returning to the Netherlands in 1930. He continued his academic career in Delft and became rector magnificus for a year in 1937, a position he also held from 1949 to 1951. Among his doctoral students was Warner T. Koiter, who turned out to be an influential mechanic.

Biezeno’s best-known publication is the book ‘Technische Dynamik’ (1939). He wrote this monograph together with the German physicist  Richard Grammel and it became a classic that was published in many languages.

During his career, Biezeno received honorary doctorates from the University of Amsterdam, Ghent and Brussels. In 1939, he was also appointed a member of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, the KNAW. Members of the KNAW are elected on the basis of outstanding scientific achievements. Membership is for life.

Ir. Cornelis B. Biezeno is receiving this award because of his exceptional career as professor and rector magnificus and his scientific achievements in mechanical engineering.