25.10.1708 Suresnes-Paris/F - 27.2.1794 Paris/F
Jean-Rodolphe Perronet's rise to the first engineer of the nation was founded on a personal friendship with the French Dauphin, the later Louis XV. Perronet profited from this unique chance to make a successful career. He studied at the Military School of Paris and entered in 1725 as a designer the Ponts et Chaussées Corps office. He was appointed in 1763 General Engineer. As the director of Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, founded in 1747, he introduced systematic lecturing and aimed to link education with research and application to engineering. He thus may be considered the founder of the modern technical university, although studies prior to his School were only initiated some 50 years later, once Ecole Polytechnique had been founded in 1794. The latter may thus be considered an institution where basic subjects such as mathematics, physics or chemistry still are taught, prior to a specialization at one of the Great Schools of Paris, such as the ENPC, or the French Mining School.
Perronet was a great bridge engineer, and made revolutionary designs, some of which have lasted over more than two centuries. The bridge substructure was also considered in detail, with a particular attention towards the bridge piers. He proposed to use slim designs in order to keep flow velocities small and thus inhibit scour. He also was often personally present when complicated works were made, such as the bridge abutments, because their failure could have catastrophic consequences both for his structures and his reputation. Perronet advised engineers to carefully analyze bridges which were successful in the past. He was also involved in works relating to canals, internal navigation, large ports, and the drinking water supply to the capital.
Anonymous (1897). J.-R. Perronet, premier directeur de l'Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées. Bulletin de la Société Vaudoise des Ingénieurs et des Architectes 23: 60-64. P Anonymous (1897). La vie et les travaux de Perronet. Le Génie Civil 31(12): 177-180. P Anonymous (1949). Jean-Rodolphe Perronet. La Houille Blanche 3(3/4): 183-185. P
Boyer, J. (1897). Jean-Rodolphe Perronet - Fondateur de l'Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées. Cosmos (649): 10-15. P
Perronet, J.-R. (1777). Sur la réduction de l'épaisseur des piles et sur la courbure qu'il convient de donner aux voûtes, pour que l'eau puisse passer. Manuscrit: Paris.
Poggendorff, J.C. (1863). Perronet, Jean Rodolphe. Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch
2: 407-408; 3: 407-408. Barth: Leipzig, with bibliography.
Yvon, M. (1987). Jean-Rodolphe Perronet. Monuments historiques de France (150/151): 81-86.

Hydraulicians in Europe 1800-2000 . 2013.

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