Montana State University

MSU alum inducted into Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame

November 4, 2010 -- MSU News Service


Wilbur J. Bennington, a 1950 graduate of Montana State College and structural engineer on many prominent public buildings in Montana, was inducted into the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame on Nov. 3. Photo courtesy of the Montana Society of Engineers.   High-Res Available

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A 1950 graduate of Montana State College and a structural engineer overseeing many prominent public buildings in the state was inducted into the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame on Nov. 3.

The Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Montana Society of Engineers to honor engineers who made significant contributions to the development of Montana and the engineering profession. The Hall of Fame is housed at MSU's College of Engineering in Bozeman.

Wilbur J. Bennington, of Billings, is this year's inductee. He was honored with a plaque on the Hall of Fame.

Bennington graduated with a degree in architectural engineering from then Montana State College after having served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946.

After earning his degree, he began a 30-year career as the structural engineer for CTA Architects Engineers in Billings, during which time he served various posts including: principal, managing partner, and chairman and executive director. He was the only staff engineer for the firm until 1967. By 1980, the firm had 60 design professionals. Today, CTA has 350 employees working in sixteen branch offices.

During his career, Bennington did significant structural engineering work on a large number of prominent public buildings in Montana, including: the Billings Logan Field Airport Control Tower in 1959, the MSU-Billings Physical Education Building and Alterowitz Gym in 1960, the MSU-Billings Liberal Arts Building in 1968, the Rocky Mountain College Student Union Building in 1960, MSU's Wilson and Leon Johnson halls in 1973 and 1974 respectively, Hardin High School in 1959, Laurel High School in 1962, Butte St. James Hospital in 1963, Helena St. Peter's Hospital in 1965, Billings Deaconess Hospital in 1959; Billings St. Vincent Hospital Addition in 1964, Missoula Community Hospital in 1970; Billings Main Post Office in 1973 and the Billings Yellowstone METRA in 1975.

Bennington hired, trained and supervised structural, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers during a major growth period for CTA between 1965 and 1973. He taught and promoted organizational leadership and management skills; fairness and professionalism; quality control; and completeness of calculations to many engineers who benefited from his mentorship.

He initiated CTA's Peer Review Type Management, gaining insight from national firms outside the region and hiring management consultants to improve operations, organization, and quality of services. He was the catalyst for CTA's emergence as a regional service provider with a national presence.

He was a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers; Montana Society of Engineers; American Concrete Institute; and Professional Services Management Association and was a consultant to the Montana Board of Architects for seismic design from 1965 to 1973.

Bennington's daughter, Jean Sweeney, a MSU chemical engineering graduate, is currently vice president for environmental, health and safety operations for 3M in St. Paul, Minn.

Previous inductees into the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame include John H. Morrison, Ben F. Hurlbut, W. Paul Schmechel, Leland J. Walker, Harold S. "Sonny" Hanson, Robert L. Sanks, Eldon R. Dodge, Joseph A. Maierle, Willis J. Wetstein, Daniel T. Berube, and Fred F. Videon.

More information on the Montana Society of Engineers is available at www.mtengineers.org.

Contact: Doug Brekke, Montana Society of Engineers at 406-932-5400 or dlb@5400.tv