Failure Investigator, Former WJE President Hanson Dies at 84


Distinguished Member John M. Hanson, nationally renowned as an investigator of high-profile failures of concrete and steel structures, and a former president of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., has died. He was 84.

Hanson, Ph.D., P.E., NAE, Dist.M.ASCE, retired from WJE’s board of directors in 2014 after a 42-year career with the firm, including serving as president from 1979 through 1992. He managed some of their most challenging projects, and consulted on the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in 1981 and the Schoharie Creek Bridge collapse on the New York State Thruway in 1987.

“For more than four decades, WJE enjoyed the benefit of John’s wisdom and guidance,” said William Nugent, current president and CEO. “Regardless of the role or situation, his efforts always epitomized our values in action. He was a man of integrity, particularly focused on enhancing technical excellence.”

Hanson joined ASCE in 1953, and in 2002, was elected Honorary Member, now Distinguished Member. His other ASCE honors include Forensic Engineer of the Year in 1999, the T.Y. Lin Award in 1979, and as a corecipient, the State-of-the-Art of Civil Engineering Award in 1974 and the Raymond C. Reese Award in 1976.

In 1992, Hanson was elected to the National Academy of Engineers. He served as American Concrete Institute president and as a director of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, among many other industry achievements.

Hanson earned his bachelor of science in civil engineering from South Dakota State University in 1953, a master’s in structural engineering from Iowa State University in 1957, and a Ph.D. from Lehigh University in 1964.

He departed WJC in 1992 to join North Carolina State University as distinguished professor emeritus of civil engineering and construction.


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