Leslie A. and Dennis J. Drag Lecture Series in Civil Engineering Featuring Craig Davis

Leslie and Dennis Drag

Courtesy of Leslie and Dennis Drag

On Friday, October 21, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department welcomed students and alumni to campus for the Leslie A. and Dennis J. Drag Distinguished Lecture Series in Civil Engineering. This year’s talk featured Craig Davis, a professional consultant on geotechnical earthquake, and lifeline infrastructure system resilience engineering. Davis spent three decades at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power developing a comprehensive L.A. Water System resilience program.

Established in 2017 through the generous philanthropy of Leslie and Dennis Drag, this lecture series provides a distinctive opportunity to engage in critical intellectual discussions around engineering a sustainable infrastructure for the future. Dennis and Leslie knew they wanted to create a distinguished lecture series at UCLA after they saw the impact of the lecture series they established in 2005 at Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering — with Purdue being where they both received their bachelor’s degrees. Now with five acclaimed lectures presented at UCLA since 2017 (including the distinction of being UCLA Samueli’s first virtual event in 2020), the Drags’ lecture series has nurtured an invaluable sense of collaboration and learning.

Left to right: UCLA Professor Jonathan Stewart, Dennis Drag, Craig Davis and Leslie Drag
Left to right: UCLA Professor Jonathan Stewart, Dennis Drag, Craig Davis and Leslie Drag

When asked what motivated their giving, Leslie and Dennis expressed their excitement and pride in being able to have such a tangible impact on enriching the intellectual and community experiences of so many Bruin civil engineers. “We both believe education is critical in helping a person achieve their greatest expectations and dreams as they proceed through their professional career,” they said.

Dennis Drag is a double Bruin having earned both his master’s degree in 1969 and his doctorate in 1982 from UCLA Samueli. Dennis credits UCLA for his wide-reaching professional success, including the development of the Apollo Saturn V launch vehicle and the design and construction of the John Wayne Airport. During his impressive 48-year career, Dennis frequently found himself exchanging ideas with icons like Neil Armstrong and UCLA’s very own Coach John Wooden. “UCLA enhanced my technical abilities as well as helped me develop as a stronger engineering professional, and I cannot thank UCLA enough,” he said.

If you are interested in learning more about joining Dennis and Leslie in endowing a distinguished lecture series in one of our academic departments, please contact Rory O’Toole at rotoole@support.ucla.edu.