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School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl is Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award by Delaware County’s Society of Professional Engineers

Fred Akl

School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl

Widener University School of Engineering Dean Fred Akl, of Marple Township, Pa., has been awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Delaware County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers.

“This is a great honor to be recognized by my peers, many of whom are giants in the profession,” said Akl. “To be nominated and selected for this award is both humbling and flattering.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented each year to a candidate who has demonstrated long-term contributions to the local, state, national or global communities in the field of engineering. Candidates must work or reside in Delaware County or southern Chester County.

Akl, dean of the Widener University School of Engineering since 1998, has spent more than 30 years in higher education. He previously held faculty and administrative positions at Louisiana Tech University, Ohio University, California Polytechnic State University and Cairo University. His professional engineering practice in the U.S., Canada and Egypt covers a broad range of work from underground to space structures.

Akl was nominated for the award by Nick Cirilli, a longtime member of the Delaware County PSPE and founder, owner and principal engineer with Cirilli Associates, Inc. He earned his M.S. in structural engineering from Widener in 1979.

“I came to know Dr. Akl as soon as he arrived at Widener University. He immediately reached out to the local engineering community, including our chapter. An engineer with sincerity, wrapped in determination, moxie and spunk, were my first impressions of Dr. Akl. I continue to feel this same way about him today,” said Cirilli.

At Widener, Akl has made his mark by helping to strengthen the undergraduate enrollment in not only numbers, but quality, and has done so in a highly competitive market. Under his leadership, the School of Engineering nearly tripled enrollment and recently launched new undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical engineering.

Akl helped launch an Honors Program and a Living Learning Community specifically for Widener engineering students to help enrich their undergraduate experience. To reach aspiring engineers, Akl and the Widener School of Engineering host multiple outreach programs for high school students throughout the year in addition to one for high school teachers and counselors to make them aware of career choices in engineering for their students. These outreach programs have attracted more than 10,000 students and 400 teachers and counselors since 2000.

Akl’s professional career is equally impressive. He worked as a faculty fellow and consultant for NASA for 10 summers, sharing his expertise as a structural engineer specializing in vibration control and advanced computations. He aided in the testing and preparation for docking the space shuttles with the Mir, a Russian space station.

Akl currently serves as a member of the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education and a member of the i2N Economic Development Organization. 

He is a graduate of Cairo University with a B.S. in civil engineering, Delft University of Technology with a graduate certificate in hydraulic engineering and The University of Calgary with a M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering. He also has a certificate of management and leadership in education from Harvard University.

Akl was previously recognized by the Delaware County PSPE in 2001 with the Engineer of the Year Award. The chapter will officially recognize Akl with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the nation’s celebration of Engineers Week at a banquet on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Concordville Inn, 780 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, Pa.

Also at this banquet, the chapter will present the Engineer of the Year Award to Timothy Bayse, supervisory general engineer at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command; and the Young Engineer of the Year Award to Jessee Wullenwaber, lead design engineer and project manager at Schnabel Engineering, LLC.

For ticket information, contact Dewey Jurich at or register online.

About Widener University
Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,