Students and some former Staff from the Melbourne University School of Engineering and the Department of Infrastructure Engineering were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of alumnus and past member of staff, Jan Ludzer (Dick) van der Molen in late 2015.
Born in Amsterdam in 1924, Dick was renowned for his design of the University of Melbourne’s heritage listed south lawn car park. With trees, lawns and ponds on its roof structure, the space was recognised for its design, construction and aesthetic appeal, earning Dick an award of excellence from the Concrete Institute of Australia.
Dick completed his education at Lorentz Lyceum and Haarlem Polytechnic in the Netherlands studying structural and aeronautical engineering. He escaped to England just as WW2 began and spent the war years training with Royal Army Engineers at Aldershot. After the War he became an Engineering Officer with the Royal Netherlands Army. During this time he travelled to Indonesia to restore infrastructure and then worked privately for P&T Lands and with Havenwerken NV in Turkey.
Dick moved to Australia in 1950 and worked on a vast array of projects including the Snowy Mountains scheme, the Shell refinery at Corio and the Anderson Wharf in Portland. He spent 3 decades in Victoria, designing stressed concrete structures, including the McIntyre Bridge in Geelong, the approach ramps of the Westgate Bridge and was involved in many local and international projects when Chief Civil Engineer of Bechtel Pacific.
A Fellow of Engineers Australia and a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineering, Dick moved into academia part-time in the 1980’s, completing his masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 1982. He later became a senior lecturer in concrete design and technology and developed courses in computer aided design of reinforced concrete structures.
Dick received an award of merit from Engineering Heritage Australia for generously donating his time to work on the heritage listing of the Tasmanian Ross River Bridge and preservation and heritage listing of the Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct across the Barwon River. He also completed his Doctoral Thesis whilst living in Tasmania, and was awarded a Doctorate in Engineering Science from Newcastle University in 2008 at the age of 82.
Dick will be remembered fondly by his students for his commitment to them, the joy of teaching , the quality of engineering endeavour (the subject of his Thesis) and his sense of humour.