Engineering professor Sigl to retire after four decades

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

After close to half a century, an engineering professor at SDSU is retiring.

Arden Sigl began teaching at SDSU in 1968 and now, 41 years later, is coming to the end of his final semester as a full time professor. Sigl will return in the fall to teach one graduate level course.

“Not many [professors] would pre-date 1968,” said Sigl.

During his time here, he has seen a lot of change.

Hilton Briggs was the president when Sigl began his career here. Experiencing the administrations of six different university presidents were only some of the changes Sigl saw during his career at SDSU.

One of the biggest changes during his time was the computer.

“When I started out, a memo came out ? and carbon copies were used, so that’s a tremendous change,” said Sigl.

“Work on [computers] is both a benefit and a curse,” Sigl said.

Sigl was a part of the university committee commissioned by the president.

The commission was made up of 10 people and released a report in 1985, said Sigl.

“The president commissioned a committee on how to bring computers to where they are today for faculty,” said Sigl.

Sigl said when he started in engineering, he used a slide rule.

“Now, most people don’t know what it is,” he said.

“I like analysis,” said Sigl. “Now, [because of computers], we can analyze things way beyond what we can understand.”

“I try to instill in students a healthy dose of skepticism,” Sigl said. He tells his students that just because data comes out of a computer does not mean it is correct.

Other changes Sigl has experienced are growth and added buildings on campus, as well as the transition to D-I sports.

“I like SDSU sports. My wife and I have had season tickets for a long time for basketball and football,” said Sigl.

Sigl’s favorite part of working at SDSU is the interaction he has had with students.

“I’ve been at this a long time,” Sigl said. “That’s what I’m going to miss. Associating with younger people keeps you young.”

“I enjoyed interacting with students and grad students,” he said.

Sigl has a dry erase board in his office that he uses to help students understand concepts and enjoys watching students learn.

Brent Krohn, a senior civil engineering major, said he has taken almost every class Sigl offers.

“[Sigl] probably just drives the seriousness of matter into our heads. He doesn’t let you get by without learning,” said Krohn.

Doug Wessel, a project manager at Banner Associates, an engineering and architectural consulting firm, was a graduate student advisee of Sigl’s.

“Dr. Sigl’s influence during my undergrad and graduate education was a profound force shaping my understanding of the engineering field and helped set in motion the path to my professional development.”

Sigl said he has graded an inestimable number of papers during his time here.

“That is always the tough, tedious part,” said Sigl. “But I always spend time trying to write notes on students’ papers.”

Sigl will return in the fall to teach one last graduate-level steel design class.

“It will be a slowdown,” he said.

Sigl and his wife, Lavonne, are expecting their first grandchild in May.

“I also am looking forward to enjoying the outdoors,” said Sigl.

“I’ve missed a lot of fishing trips over the years,” he said. “You can’t make them up, but you don’t have to miss any more.”

He is also planning to go backpacking in the southwestern United States.

“The landscapes are beautiful there,” said Sigl. “Maybe it’s just because I’ve grown up in South Dakota.”

He plans to continue working on his photography hobby and also will keep doing some engineering consulting work as well.

“I plan to maintain my license to practice,” he said. “Someday, I’ll have to retire from that.”

Sigl also said his wife has made him a list of things to do.

“Lavonne has a list that might take me three years to get through,” he said.