Presentation of Mirko Roš Award

Special thank-you to Empa's friends

Jun 27, 2005 | BEAT ASCHWANDEN

The Mirko Roš Award for outstanding achievements in the field of materials and engineering science was presented for the very first time on 24 June 2005 as part of Empa's 125th birthday celebrations. Tribute was paid to three distinguished engineers, Alfred Rösli, Christian Menn and Aftab Mufti, who received the gold medal. A silver medal went to former Empa undergraduate student Doris Spori.

Mirko Roš Award, designed by Hans Erni.

2005 marks Empa's 125th anniversary. The official ceremony on 24 June culminated in the first ever presentation of the Mirko Roš Award. Gold medals were bestowed on three of Empa's longstanding friends and partners – Alfred Rösli, Christian Menn and Aftab Mufti – in recognition of their life's work in the field of materials and engineering science. The erstwhile Empa undergraduate student, Doris Spori, was awarded a silver medal.

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From left to right: Mirko Roš (grandson of past Empa Director Mirko Roš), Pascal Couchepin (Swiss Federal Councillor), Franziska Saager-Roš (granddaughter of Mirko Roš), Doris Spori (silver medal winner), Hans Erni (artist), Alfred Rösli (gold medal winner), Cornelia Bodmer-Roš (granddaughter of Mirko Roš), Christian Menn (gold medal winner) and Aftab Mufti (gold medal winner). Centre: bust of Mirko Roš.

Accolade for three bridge experts

Alfred Rösli's pioneering experiments on a road bridge in the 1960s helped earn Empa worldwide acclaim. The expansion of Empa's research activities through his MARES (MAterials RESarch) programme gave a major boost to the institute's reputation in the scientific and technical community. His appointment in 1973 as Ordinary Professor of Materials Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich paved the way for an exceptionally productive research partnership between Empa and ETH's Civil Engineering Department. Much of the seed sown at that time still bears fruit today.

Christian Menn ranks among the most eminent bridge engineers of our age. His bridges are highly regarded not just in Switzerland, but also in North America. He is an expert at blending functionality with aesthetic appeal, and his bridges always sit happily in the landscape. The inspiring collaboration between Empa staff and the world-famous bridge builder dates back many years. An Empa team is currently assisting Menn in the design of a spectacular cable-stayed bridge to span the Grimselsee lake in the Canton of Berne.


Aftab Mufti is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and President of the Network of Centres of Excellence on Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures (ISIS Canada). On a visit to Empa with 15 other professors in 1989, he was impressed by the institute's proficiency in fibre-reinforced composites for bridge engineering. On returning to Canada, he set out to modernize construction practice – and specifically bridgebuilding – through formation of the ISIS network, which brings together 14 universities. This also marked the start of an extraordinarily fruitful process of knowledge transfer between his institutions and Empa.


Brilliant achievements by young engineer

Doris Spori was honoured by Empa with the award of a silver medal. She graduated from the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich in the winter semester of 2004/2005. Her degree thesis, based on work carried out at Empa's Plastics/Composites Lab, made a valuable contribution to the success of Empa's Adaptive Materials Systems programme. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis at ETH Zurich.

The Mirko Roš Award is named in commemoration of Empa's Director in the years between 1924 and 1949, who placed his own unmistakable stamp on the institute. His granddaughter, Cornelia Bodmer-Roš, attended the ceremony and presented the medals to the award winners. Hans Erni, who has long-standing ties with Empa, was responsible for the medal's artistic design.



Dr. Bärbel Zierl, tel. 044 823 49 09,

Contact for further details:
Prof. Urs Meier, tel. +44 823 41 00,