It is with great sadness that I report the passing of a mentor and former colleague, Dr. Ed Nowatzki, PE, PhD, D.GE, F. ASCE. His obituary can be found here. I first met Ed when I took his foundation engineering class at the University of Arizona. Ed was a fantastic professor, and his consulting experience really informed his lecturing making his course the best and most practical geotechnical class I had in school. I was privileged to work with Ed for several years after school when I was a staff engineer at URS and then again while working for NCS Consultants from 2004 to 2010. He reviewed many of my reports and calculations, and didn’t let me slide by on anything but was never harsh or overly critical.
He had an uncompromising moral compass, and was a resource for all of us at NCS when it came to issues of engineering ethics. But the things I will remember most about him is his passion for life-long learning. He continued consulting part time at NCS up until his health began to fail. I remember one time that Naresh Samtani was preparing to give one of his Friday lectures to the NCS staff, and in walked Ed. I asked him why he was there, joking that he could be teaching the lecture himself. He told me, “you never stop learning.” That is something I will carry with me for the rest of my career, and the rest of my life.
I can’t begin to describe Ed’s personal and professional legacy. He has touched the lives of hundreds of practicing engineers through his teaching at the University of Arizona and at Cal Poly State University. But I would like to share two things that I believe any geotechnical engineer can appreciate.
- Ed and his NCS colleague and close friend, Naresh Samtani, co-authored a fantastic general soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering reference manual – the Soils and Foundations Manual (2 volumes) prepared for the National Highway Institute of the FHWA. I highly recommend it for any geotechnical engineer, even if you don’t practice on highway projects. And it can be downloaded for free.
- Ed wrote an article for GeoPrac back in 2007 about his experience working for Northrop Grumman on the design of landing pads for the lunar lander. He appropriately titled the article, The Ultimate Geotechnical Engineering Challenge and it is fascinating reading.