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Robert C. Gibson

Robert C. Gibson

Mechanical Engineering
Class of 1961, BS

Bob Gibson comfortably sits as “head of the household” in the chairman’s seat at Clark Nexsen, one of the nation’s Top 500 architecture and engineering design firms. In the past decade alone, the firm has won 11 distinctive design awards under Mr. Gibson’s leadership. One of the most recent honors garnered was “Top 5 Office Buildings in Hampton Roads” for the Twin Oaks facility located at the Lake Wright Executive Center of Norfolk, Virginia.

Clark Nexsen, the largest design firm in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, provides a complete package of architectural and engineering services. Its designs run the gamut of buildings: offices, schools, commercial, retail, recreational, manufacturing, industrial, and municipal, state, and federal government facilities. Some 30 colleges and universities, including Virginia Tech, have benefited from its professional wisdom.

Mr. Gibson and his firm share deep roots in Virginia. The Class of 1959 mechanical engineering graduate of Virginia Tech was born in Norfolk 64 years ago. At that point, the company he would eventually head was only 17 years old. Pendleton S. Clark founded the firm in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1920. He carried the firm successfully through the Depression and World War II, and then opened the Norfolk office. Mr. Gibson joined the firm in 1961, and after 18 years, the ultimate tribute for the Virginia Tech Hokie occurred. He and others were officially recognized as partners, and Clarks’ business became Clark, Nexsen, Barbieri & Gibson. The slightly unwieldy name was later shortened to Clark Nexsen in 1996.

One year after his confirmation as a partner, Mr. Gibson led a bold new overseas venture for the firm. He directed the establishment of a new office in Madrid, Spain, that enabled the company to better serve U.S. agencies in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Mr. Gibson went on to serve as President/CEO and Director of the firm for 15 years at its home offices in Norfolk and in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1985-2000. The company thrived as one of the Top 200 international architectural and engineering design firms in the world.

Besides being certified as a Professional Engineer in six states, Mr. Gibson is also a member of the Institution of Engineers in Ireland. Clark Nexen has performed projects in 32 foreign countries and continues its tradition of providing world-wide excellence to its clients from the company’s office located in Norfolk.

Service listings abound on Mr. Gibson’s resume. Citing a few highlights, he was the President of the National Society of Professional Engineers from 1988-89 and Chairman of the National Institute of Building Science from 1991-93.

His distinguished service to Virginia Tech includes serving on the Committee of 100 for the College of Engineering since 1978 and the newly established Industrial Advisory Group for Minority Engineering Programs. He has also served on the Virginia Tech Scholarship Committee and on the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Committee.

Mr. Gibson has been an overachiever all of his life. In 1954, the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce bestowed upon him the Outstanding Teenager-Tidewater Award. Since then, he has earned consistent high honors such as the Virginia Engineer of the Year in 1979, named as a Fellow by the Institute of Engineers in Ireland in 1989, and received the Member of the Year Award by the National Institute of Building Sciences in 1998. He has been named as an Eminent Engineer Member of Tau Beta Pi and named as a member of the Steinman Council, N.S.P.E. Education Foundation — both since 1987. Mr. Gibson is currently serving as Chairman of the N.S.P.E. Council of Fellows until 2003.

Under the leadership of one-of-a-kind engineer Bob Gibson, the “House That Clark Built” is thriving in Virginia as it grows and prospers into the new millennium, adapting to new technologies while reaching out to a global market.

Class of: 1961
Year Inducted into Academy: 2002