Wind Engineering Expert Peterka, a Key Contributor to ASCE 7, Dies

BY 
June 3, 2019

Jon Peterka of Fort Collins, CO, a giant of wind engineering who was vital to development of the ASCE 7 national wind load standard, has died. He was 77.

Peterka

Peterka, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE, was pivotal in commercializing the professional practice of wind engineering and wind tunnel testing, taking it out of the academic realm and into the business environment. In addition to ASCE 7, since 1993 he had been chairman of ASCE 49, the Standards Committee on Wind Tunnel Testing, and his work included development of the non-hurricane gust wind hazard map for the national standard.

Peterka led his own firm, Jon Peterka Engineering LLC, and was co-founder and president emeritus of CPP Inc., a consulting firm in Fort Collins, CO. His practice built on over 45 years of experience in the field.

To say he will be missed by the wind and structural engineering communities would understate things. But Peterka may have been fine with that.

“What a kind gentleman,” said Donald Scott, vice president and director of engineering for PCS Structural Solutions. “[He] had a huge impact on the ASCE 7 Wind Load provisions for many cycles.”

Peterka and his partner, Jack Cermak, used their academic experience to design and construct a more capable wind tunnel for clients as well as develop the necessary instrumentation and software. Their innovations are used throughout the world today. Among his related achievements, he developed an anemometer siting guide for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Peterka himself evaluated over 1,000 buildings and structures for wind loads (local cladding pressures and/or frame forces and moments), primarily through wind tunnel testing, and evaluated the pedestrian wind climate for many of those buildings.

In addition to his work on many ASCE committees, his professional activities included memberships in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and National Society of Professional Engineers. He was also a reviewer of submitted papers for ASCE’s Journal of Structural Engineering, the Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, and Wind and Structures.

Recognitions for Peterka’s contributions include the Wind Engineering Research Council’s 1990 Outstanding Wind Engineering Research Award, the ASCE 1999 Raymond C. Reese Research Prize, Engineering News Record’s Top 25 Newsmakers of 2006, and ASCE’s 2010 Cermak Medal. He also received two awards for excellence in teaching at Colorado State University.

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