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Daniel L. and Irma Evans Lecture

The Daniel L. and Irma Evans Endowed Lectureship provides an opportunity to deepen the understanding of engineering by exposing students and practicing engineers to the concepts, challenges, concerns and methods they will interact with throughout their careers.

Dan, Roger and Robert Evans established the endowed lecture in 1983 to memorialize and honor the human and broad societal outlook of their parents.

Daniel L. and Irma Evans Lecture 2023

The Venice Gates: A Short History of a Long, Successful (but Controversial) Project

Thursday, May 11, 3:30 p.m.
Kane Hall, Room 110

The lecture will be in-person

Dr. Rafael L. Bras

Featuring Dr. Rafael L. Bras
K. Harrison Brown Family Chair
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology


The frequency and magnitude of tidal flooding of the lagoon and city of Venice have increased dramatically for over 100 years. This trend can be attributed to past periods of accelerated subsidence and present sea level rise. This flooding disturbs commerce, life and seriously damages the infrastructure of the region. The solution to the problem is a series of gates across the three inlets of the lagoon of Venice. These gates separate the Adriatic from the lagoon in periods of very high meteorological tides and stops flooding. The construction of the multi-billion-dollar system is completed and represents an engineering and science marvel. It has been a long road, involving innovative and creative engineering, political intrigue and scandal, and triumph and vindication for the design. This talk presents the problem, discusses why the particular solution was chosen, illustrates the elements of the built system and discusses the political, social and management issues that threatened completion and the long-term survival of the city. 


A native of Puerto Rico, Rafael L. Bras is a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  He holds the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. 

Dr. Bras was provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to becoming provost, Dr. Bras was Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering of the University of California, Irvine (UCI). For 32 years prior to joining UCI he was a professor in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. He is past Chair of the MIT Faculty, former head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department and Director of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory at MIT. He has served as advisor to government and private institutions. 

Dr. Bras has received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from several universities. He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico, and is a corresponding member of the Mexican National Academy of Engineering and the Mexican National Academy of Sciences. He also is an elected Fellow of AGU, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and received the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award. 

As a consultant Dr. Bras chaired a panel of experts that supervised the design and construction of a multibillion-dollar project to protect the City of Venice from floods.  He is a Senior Advisor to Elsevier.

Inquiries, contact Karen Heath at This lecture is open to the public. No RSVP required

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