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Member Spotlight 2018: Joe Minor PhD, PE, Dist. M.ASCE

Member Spotlight 2018: Joe Minor PhD, PE, Dist. M.ASCE

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” advances a proposition that success is often achieved through factors other than genius. Even Bill Gates concedes that he would not have been wildly successful had it not been for his timely access to a remote computer at age 13 made possible by his wealthy family. The factors that predisposed my achievements were fortuitous timing and the ASCE culture. 

The first timely event occurred when I arrived in San Antonio in 1962. I was just in time to play a part in San Antonio Branch plans to recognize 250 years of engineering activity in the City during HemisFair 1968. 

My employment at Southwest Research Institute led me to Washington D.C. where, in the basement of the Pentagon, I happened to meet Neal FitzSimons, Chairman of the National ASCE Committee on History and Heritage. Working with me and Branch colleagues Mal Steinberg PE and Ed Sokolowski PE, LS, Mr. FitzSimons mentored us through the historic landmark proposal process and the Acequias of San Antonio were named the first National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in Texas and the seventh nationally. This activity introduced me to the ASCE culture at the Branch, Section, and National levels when I was not yet 30 years of age.

A second timely event further immersed me into the ASCE culture. In 1969 I moved to Lubbock where the May 11,1970 tornado severely damaged one-fourth of the City. The ready-made structural laboratory provided me with a dissertation topic and jump-started a program in Wind Engineering at Texas Tech University. We became heavily involved with ASCE through national committees, short course presentations, publications, and Branch, Section, and National conferences. High Plains Branch members Kishor Mehta PhD, PE, NAE, F.SEI. Dist.M. ASCE; Jim McDonald, PhD, PE; Ernie Kiesling, PhD, PE; and I established what is now the National Wind Institute. It produced major influences on building practices, including code provisions for residential construction, windborne debris, storm shelters, window glass, and ASCE-7, the national wind load standard.

While a faculty member at Texas Tech for the next 18 years I continued my ASCE activities. I chaired the Section Committee on History and Heritage. This Committee marked six Texas Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks during the 1976 Bicentennial Year. With the guidance of Mr. FitzSimons, I coauthored a book, “Water for the Southwest,” published by ASCE as Historical Publication Number 3, and engineering drawings of the Acequias were placed in the Historic American Engineering Record. I followed my history-related activities with participation in other Section committees and offices. Working with students and younger members in the university student chapters, the Texas Section, and local branches was especially rewarding. Election as Texas Section President in 1986 followed by the Award of Honor in 2003 were highpoints of my association with the ASCE. 

My professional activity diminished from 2011 while attending to family matters. I was given an unexpected honor in 2016 when Allan Hayes nominated me, at age 78, to be President of the Corpus Christi Branch. 

Election to this office by Branch members proved momentous in my being elected to the grade of Distinguished Member, ASCE in 2018. Now you know the rest of the story.