Giesecke, Frederick Ernest (1869–1953)

By: Linda Geren Nichols

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 10, 2016

Frederick Ernest Giesecke (also spelled Fredrich, Friederich, or Friederick Ernst Giesecke), educator, architect, and engineer, was born on January 28, 1869, in Latium, Texas, the son of Capt. Julius and Wilhelmine (Gross) Giesecke. The family moved to New Braunfels in 1872. Ernst entered public school in 1876 and graduated in 1882. The next year he graduated from the German-English School in San Antonio at the age of fourteen. He entered the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) in the fall of 1883 and graduated first in his class. He also was the senior cadet officer in 1886. He immediately joined the faculty as an instructor in mechanical engineering. In 1888 mechanical drawing was separated from mechanical engineering, and, at the age of nineteen, he became department head. He did graduate work at Cornell University, the University of Illinois, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At MIT he found he was unable to get reliable information on water-heating systems, so in 1907 he took a year's leave to study at the Technical University of Berlin. On his return, his articles in Heating and Ventilation Magazine were the first authentic information on the subject published in the United States.

Giesecke continued teaching at Texas A&M until 1912, when he was recruited by the University of Texas as head of the new Department of Architecture; he remained in this position until 1927 and then returned to Texas A&M as college architect and head of the architecture department. His experiments on rodding concrete pioneered the way for ready-mixed concrete, and his writings led to wide acceptance of reinforced concrete structures. He designed or supervised the construction of over twenty buildings on the A&M campus and wrote or contributed to many research bulletins, articles, and textbooks. The most prominent was Technical Drawing (1936, with Alva Mitchell and Henry Spencer), published and widely used for decades.

Giesecke was a charter member of the American Society of Engineering Education; a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute of Architects, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi; national president of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers; and a fellow of the American Society for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the F. Paul Anderson Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the science of heating and ventilating. In 1891 Giesecke was married to Mulda Gruene of New Braunfels. They had four children. He died in 1953.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Architecture
  • Architects
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Art and Architecture
  • Peoples
  • Germans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Linda Geren Nichols, “Giesecke, Frederick Ernest,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

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May 10, 2016