Bobby Ott Hardin was born in Lexington, Kentucky on September 9,1935 to Ermine M. and Bessie M. Hardin. As an only child, he had the love of an extended family including aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived nearby. He attended Fayette County schools and graduated from Lafayette High School in 1952. While in high school, he enjoyed singing in the male chorus. Dr. Hardin, based on his father’s influence as a carpenter, enrolled at the University of Kentucky as a Civil Engineering major in 1952. During his senior year, while attending surveying camp, Professor David K. Blythe and Department Head R.E.Shaver asked him to be an instructor as he worked on his Master’s Degree, thus commencing his teaching career. Dr. Hardin, a member of Tau Beta Pi, graduated with a BSCE in 1956 and an MSCE in 1958. Upon completion of his Masters, Dr. Hardin was promoted to Assistant Professor.
Dr. Hardin received a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and graduated from the University of Florida with a Ph.D degree in 1961. Following six months in the U.S. Army, he returned to the University of Kentucky as an Associate Professor. Tenured within several years, he was appointed Professor in 1967. He served a four year term as Chairman of the department of Civil Engineering from 1973-1977. Over the past 45 years, Dr. Hardin has taught various classes including: Structural Analysis, Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering, Advanced Soil Mechanics, Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering; he has had an estimated 5,000 students in his undergraduate and graduate courses. He also authored or coauthored 46 professional papers during his academic career.
Dr. Hardin has received various research honors and awards including: the J.R.Croes Medal, the Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award, the C.A.Hogentogler Award, the Norman Medal, the Walter Huber Research Prize, and the Alfred Noble Prize. The Croes Medal and the Norman Medal are the highest honors awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers for outstanding publications.
During his doctoral studies, Dr. Hardin invented a Resonant Column Oscillator for determining the shear modulus of soil at various confining pressures. This testing was necessary to evaluate the safety of massive structures such as nuclear power plants when enduring major earthquakes. Dr. Hardin, and later in collaboration with his colleague Dr. Vincent Drnevich, refined the testing of soils under dynamic conditions and received three patents. The resonant column apparatus has been manufactured and sold to over fifty research institutions in the United States and throughout the world.
Dr. Hardin served on the publications committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers for many years; he is a Lifetime Member of the American Society for Testing Materials. He has worked as an expert consultant for numerous engineering firms and institutions including: the Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has also lectured at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Hardin has retained registration as a Professional Engineer and Professional Land Surveyor throughout his career.