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Professor Otto Wahlgren In Memoriam

A pioneer of Finnish transportation engineering education.
Professor Otto Wahlgren
Professor Otto Wahlgren

Professor, Dr. Tech. Otto Gösta Wahlgren died on January the 1st, 2022 in the age of 94 years. He was born on January the 16th, 1927 in Helsinki, where he spent most of his childhood. He started his studies at Helsinki University of Technology in 1945 after his wartime military service and graduated in Civil Engineering in 1950.

After a ten-year service in the Mikkeli District of the Finnish National Road and Waterway Construction Administration (RWCA) he moved to Helsinki to the Central Office of the RWCA. He made his Licentiate degree in 1961 and his dissertation about the driving speeds on Finnish two-lane roads was approved in 1967. His interest in research and teaching took him in 1963 to Helsinki University of Technology, where he served first as Associate Professor in Highway Engineering, and from 1966 as the first professor of the newly established Chair in Transportation Engineering.

Professor Wahlgren had a central role in the establishment of the new professorship and in the creation of its curriculum and teaching and research tradition. His career at Helsinki University of Technology ended in 1973, when he moved to the post of the Director of the Road and Traffic Laboratory of the Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT.

Professor Wahlgren’s research interest were mainly focused on traffic speeds and road traffic safety. Among other things, he was chairing the speed limit committees of late 1960’s and early 1970s. He was also the director of the national speed limit survey of early 1970’s. He was also active in professional organisations, both home and abroad.

Professor Wahlgren was a warm-hearted person who supported his students in their aspiration. He participated to student activities serving as the professor member in the Guild of the Civil Engineering Students and singing with them in their parties.

Otto Wahlgren is missed by his three children with families, and a great number of friends and colleagues.

Matti Pursula
Professor of Transportation Engineering 1998–2011

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