The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


A Celebration of the Life and Loving Memory of Dr. Ernest Theodore Selig III

Dr. Ernest T. Selig

Dr. Ernest T. Selig

Dr. Ernest T. Selig


Dr. Ernest T. Selig, "Ernie", was born in Harrisburg, PA to Ernest T. Selig, Jr. and Dorothy Ferree Selig, the second of three children. Ernie, with his sister Jean and younger brother Larry, grew up attending 8 different schools in PA, MO, CO, UT, OH and DE before college. Graduating first in his high school class, he enrolled at Cornell University in mechanical engineering.

At Cornell, he met and later married Rae Nelson. Ernie and Rae moved to Chicago where Ernie received his master's degree in mechanical engineering and a PhD in civil engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. As a distinguished Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he also served as a visiting professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Nottingham in England, Pretoria University in South Africa, Moscow State University and a Senior Academic Visitor at Oxford University in England. His professional expertise covered geotechnical instrumentation, design and installation of buried pipelines, embankment design and construction, culverts, railway ballast and substructure, track performance, and soil dynamics.

Early in his career he developed research for NASA, simulating soil conditions on the moon, and contributed to making possible Apollo ll's safe lunar landing and Neil Armstrong's first walk on the moon. He educated and touched the lives of thousands of students over his 40 year career and supervised nineteen PhD candidates. His students came from the United States and all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Peru, Nigeria, Lebanon, China, Egypt, and South Africa. After studying with him, they returned to their own countries as experts in the field. His 45 years of research on railroad substructure is now available on his web site .

Ernie's overwhelming love, however, was for his family, including his wife Rae, their three children, spouses and grandchildren: Ted, Kim and Adam, Tom, Christine, Tanner and Alexis, and Chris. Ernie and Rae took their children on many traveling adventures and enjoyed many happy days at home playing, building projects and having long conversations about the world. Ted, Tom and Rae had the opportunity to work with Ernie at two firms that he founded, E. T. Selig, Inc. and Optram.