Dr John B. Scalzi, B.S., S.M., Sc.D

(1915 - 2006)




Dr John B. Scalzi – known universally as Jack Scalzi – was born in Milford, Massachusetts, USA in 1915 and passed away after a short illness on 20th December 2006.


Dr Scalzi graduated B.S. in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1938. He gained his S.M. and Sc.D degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA.


Jack’s professional career spanned an incredible 8 decades from the 1930s through to his retirement from the NSF in 2001. During his productive and influential career his many professional roles included: field engineer for Metcalf and Eddy, Consulting Engineers, Boston, MA; structural engineer for Curtiss-Wright Corporation, Buffalo, NY, designing structures of airplanes (Flying Tiger-P-40); Professor of Structural Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH and simultaneously Professor of Structural Engineering at the School of Architecture; Director of Marketing Technical Services, United States Steel Corporation, Pittsburgh, PA; Program Director at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Research Technology Division, Washington DC;  Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Washington DC, then Arlington VA. In this role he provided international leadership for the US Earthquake program and latterly for the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS). In CMS he focused on the development of new techniques such as non-destructive evaluation and new high strength lightweight materials – advanced composites. Jack was a visionary who identified the need to strengthen not only the ageing bridges in the USA, but also in Japan and Europe. He encouraged the world’s best researchers to follow his lead.


While in the Earthquake Engineering Section of NSF, he perceived the need for research on structural masonry, and he initiated such work in the 1970’s. Moreover, he stimulated research on masonry through masonry workshops and through the funding of numerous masonry research projects, including providing significant financial support for the U.S. Coordinated Program for Masonry Building Research. His goal was to identify masonry research needs and then to accelerate the development of new and innovative masonry materials, construction methods and design techniques. In addition, because he recognized the deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure in the late 1970’s, he encouraged the development of evaluation and retrofit technologies. Likewise he also stimulated research in nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of masonry in the 1980’s.


Recognizing his leadership in innovative and creative masonry research, The Masonry Society (of America) created the “John B. Scalzi Research Award” to honour the work of Dr. Scalzi, and other researchers who demonstrate excellence in masonry research activities. It is now the most prestigious international award. Recipients since its inception in 1990, read like a “Who’s Who”: Dr Jim Noland, Boulder, CO, Professor Arnold Hendry, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr Nigel Priestley; University of California at San Diego, CA, Professor Luigia Binda, Politecnico di Milano – just to name a few!

In an adjunct professor capacity, Dr Scalzi taught structural analysis and design for Cornell University at Buffalo, NY; University of Buffalo; Carnegie Mellon University; George Washington University, and a special short course at the University of Hawaii.

Dr Scalzi has published many papers on the design of structures and results of research projects of steel and concrete. He has co-authored four books: Design of Welded Connections; Analysis and design of cable Supported Buildings; Design of Steel Structures (published in Spanish, European edition and special Indian edition); and Analysis and design of Cable-Supported Bridges (published in Japanese and a special English edition published in Taiwan). He served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Elsevier international journal “Construction & Building Materials”.

Dr Scalzi was active in the professional activities of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as President of the Cleveland, OH and Pittsburgh, PA sections; National Director from District 9; member of many committees and Chairman ASCE Specification for Cable Stayed Bridges. He was also active in the National Society of Professional Engineers, and Chairman of research committee of the American Iron and Steel Institute. Dr Scalzi established and chartered the Scaffolding and Shoring Institute (a Trade Association) in the State of Ohio.

Over the years Jack Scalzi received many Awards including: the inaugural “John B Scalzi Research Award” by The Masonry Society (of America) in 1990; Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the US-Japan Bridge Workshops, by University of Nevada at Reno, 1994; Lifetime Achievement Award at the Structural Faults & Repair-2001 Conference, London, UK, July 2001.

Without doubt, Jack Scalzi was an authoritative and charismatic lecturer and public speaker, who commanded the interest and attention of his audience. One of his best public lectures was a fast paced illustrated powerpoint Conference Banquet Lecture to 200 international Bridge Engineers from 40+ countries on the “History of Bridges” at the Structural Faults & Repair-2003 Conference in the Riverside Room, Institution of Engineering and Technology, London, England - on a balmy summer evening on 5th July 2003.

Jack Scalzi was a very strong family man who married Jennie Elizabeth Celozzi of Milford in 1938, who predeceased him. He leaves two daughters: Ms Rosemary “Bonnie” Thayer and Ms Joan Eisenhut, 6 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and his partner of 14 years: Ms Shirley Beck. He was very close to his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Dr Jack Scalzi will be missed greatly by his many friends and colleagues from across the USA, South America, Japan and Europe.

Professor Michael C Forde, PhD, FREng, FRSE

University of Edinburgh

Scotland, UK


18th January 2007