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Alumnus will offer keys to success at Distinguished Engineering Lecture

Friday, October 03, 2014

LAWRENCE — Professor. Developer. Entrepreneur. Inventor. Karim Nasser has excelled in a wide variety of endeavors throughout his illustrious career. The University of Kansas School of Engineering graduate will share his story and offer advice to current Jayhawks at the 2014 Distinguished Engineering Lecture, set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, in Spahr Engineering Classroom of Eaton Hall.

Nasser is a native of Lebanon who earned his undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut and his master’s degree in civil engineering from KU in 1952.

“My message to the students will be simple. I’ll encourage them to find something they love to do and do it with passion,” Nasser said. “I will impress on them that they can learn and observe while at KU, but it’s up to them to find a passion. Once they identify it, just focus doing the best they can.”

Nasser said a scholarship offer from KU led him to become a Jayhawk. After receiving his master’s degree, he went on to earn his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Canada, where he would spend more than three decades as a professor. Nasser also branched out in the development and consulting businesses. But it was a challenge from a student that led to his most significant contribution to the field of engineering.

“I was in the classroom, going over the details of how to test the quality and consistency of a specific batch of concrete (known as the slump) to make sure it’s acceptable,” Nasser said. “I was telling students about how the slump test at the time was not scientific enough and was hard to do. I had a student tell me I was an expert in concrete and that I should do something about it. So a few months later, I did.”

Nasser created the K-Slump Tester, the first device of its kind to provide a fast, approximate estimate of the workability of wet concrete. It remains the industry standard.

Nasser returns to KU eager to repay the generosity the university showed him all those years ago when he received his scholarship offer. He said he remains grateful for the opportunity to learn in the United States and the doors it has opened for him.

“I love the friendships that I had with the people at KU. I love the freedom that they have. I enjoyed the football games, the basketball games and the marching band. It was all so fantastic,” Nasser said. “By coming back and giving a little bit of my time, it’s one way to say thanks to all those people who helped me along the way.”

The Distinguished Engineering Lecture is free and open to the public. 

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