Army Corps of Engineers’ cold regions expert dies at 81

Wayne Nils Tobiasson, a noted cold regions engineer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 1992 Engineer of the Year, has died. He was 81.


Imagine leading a team across the snows of Greenland to figure out a creative way to move a 3,300-ton early-warning radar station building to improve the structure’s foundations.

Tobiasson, P.E., M.ASCE, did that and more over a 39-year career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, in Hanover, New Hampshire. Up to his death he continued consulting on specialty topics and providing national snow load research and standards design contributions.

The work took him across the United States and to international locations including Scandinavia and the South Pole, where he assembled a team that identified and repaired a structural defect with a geodesic dome that sits on the pole.

From the beginning of his civil engineering studies, he was an engineer who carefully thought through a project’s technical requirements while also striving to produce refined, artistic results.

Tobiasson’s work was instrumental in national snow load research and standards design and won many accolades. He was a past chairman of the ASCE Task Committee on Snow and Rain Loads, past president of the Eastern Snow Conference, and chairman of the Federal Roofing Committee. His innovative cold regions solutions made him sought after as a lecturer and speaker at many universities and technology institutes.

He earned his bachelor of science degree at Northeastern University in 1961 and his master of science degree at Dartmouth’s Thayer School in 1974. He began working for the Corps in 1958 as an undergraduate, and continued to work at the Corps’ laboratory until his retirement in 1997.

Tobiasson credited both his interest and his career success to key mentors in the Corps and several professional organizations he worked with throughout his life.


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