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Transcript of interview with Herbert C. Wells by Dr. David Emerson, March 8, 2006






Herbert C. Wells is currently professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at UNLV, and is considered the father of engineering at the university. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1927, and spent the first four years of his life there. After his father was killed in a plane crash in 1931, his mother moved them out to Los Angeles to be near her husband's parents. They moved several times, but the goal was always to find good schools for Herb and his sister Herb received an outstanding junior high education at Trailfinders School for Boys, and then attended Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in ninth grade. He then was sent to the San Diego Army Navy Academy, where he completed high school in two years and graduated at age 16. He next enrolled at Pasadena Junior College, majoring first in chemistry and then in geology, and was drafted into the army at age 18. After the war, Herbert returned to Berkeley to finish his education. The GI bill helped him finish his master's degree. He then went to work for United Geophysical for two years, and following that, was hired at a mine in Climax, Colorado. He and his second wife moved to Las Vegas in 1957, where he began working for Titanium Metals. After a mere three weeks on the job, he met with Dr. Malcolm Graham from early UNLV, who asked Herb to teach surveying. Dr. Wells taught surveying for only one semester, but continued his association with the faculty at the university. He kept working at Titanium Metals, where he learned a lot of practical chemistry, but was laid off shortly thereafter. He then was offered a job with Blue Diamond Gypsum as a plant engineer and continued teaching on a part-time basis. He became a full-time instructor at the college in 1961. By 1967, Herbert had been appointed chairman of science, math, and engineering. He immediately put in a request for ten more teaching positions, which were ultimately filled. He also was instrumental in putting together a proposal for a graduate degree in physics, and of course was involved in ABET accreditation for engineering degrees.

Digital ID



Herbert C. Wells oral history interview, 2006 March 08. OH-01944. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Herbert C. Wells An Oral History Conducted by Dr. David Emerson The UNLV @ Fifty Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©UNLV@ FIFTY Oral History Project