Born in France and educated in France and Switzerland, Ferd held an M.S. degree from the Sorbonne and an Sc.D. degree in theoretical mechanics from the University of Geneva. He came to the United States after serving in the French army during the early part of World War II and had taught for four years at Williams College in the Williams-MIT joint arts and engineering program. Following his service at Williams College, Ferd joined the faculty of Lehigh University where he taught for thirty-seven years. He held several positions, including the University Distinguished Professors Chair and Chairman of the Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Department, and in 1995 Ferd was awarded an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree by Lehigh University.