News & Features

James Jirsa Named ASCE Distinguished Member


Dec. 4, 2017

Professor Emeritus James Jirsa, Janet S. Cockrell Centennial Chair Emeritus in Engineering, has been named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Distinguished Membership is the highest honor ASCE can bestow. It is reserved for civil engineers who have attained eminence in some branch of engineering or in related arts and sciences, including the fields of engineering education and construction.

Jirsa is recognized for his contributions to the development of reinforced concrete construction through research, mentoring, and professional activities, and in particular to the fundamental understanding of bond and anchorage in concrete and their impact on seismic design. He has contributed significant new knowledge, insights, and models that have improved the design and construction of reinforced concrete structures.

Early in his career, he focused his attention on the behavior and design of beam-column joints. Motivated by damage to concrete structures in the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, he conducted pioneering experimental studies into the behavior of such joints to resist forces induced by lateral earthquake and wind loads.

jirsa philferguson

Jim Jirsa and mentor Phil Ferguson at structural testing facility.

jirsa lab

Jirsa transformed the use of concrete in civil engineering industry.

For many years he participated in and led the American Concrete Institute (ACI) committee on beam-column joints, which developed state-of-the-art guidelines that have been incorporated into the ACI-318 Building Code.

A second research focus of Jirsa’s has been on bond and development of steel reinforcement in concrete structures. His studies provided new data and models to improve the requirements in seismic applications. In addition, he conducted some of the first research into anchorage of epoxy-coated reinforcements to improve the life-cycle performance of bridges and other structures subject to deterioration in harsh environments.

Another area where Jirsa made significant research contributions was in the seismic repair and rehabilitation of structures. His early research on seismic repair and retrofit influenced development of the FEMA 273 guidelines for seismic rehabilitation of buildings, which later formed the basis of the ASCE 41 standard on rehabilitation.

In 1988, Jirsa was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for significant contributions to research on behavior and design of structural reinforced concrete. He has also received ASCE’s Walter L. Huber Research Prize. He is an honorary member and past president of ACI, and has served on its Board of Direction and chaired the ACI Technical Activities Committee. He is also an honorary member of EERI and served on the Board of Directors.

Jirsa has supervised 53 Ph.D. and 124 M.S. students and published over 110 refereed journal papers with his students and colleagues.

The 2017 class of Distinguished Members will be formally inducted at the ASCE 2017 Convention, Oct. 8-11, 2018 in New Orleans.