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Ivan Viest, Ph.D., Composite Construction Expert
Posted by Tasha Weiss on February 15, 2012 at 12:22 PM.

ivan_viest.jpgIvan M. Viest, 89, of Bethlehem, Pa., died Saturday, February 11, 2012 at Kirkland Village, Bethlehem. He served for four decades on the AISC Specification Committee. In 2004 he received an AISC Special Achievement Award honoring his pioneering research and development work on composite design.


Viest was born October 10, 1922 in Bratislavia, Slovakia, the son of Ivan G. Viest and Maria Zacharova. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1946, after completing his civil engineering studies at the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. He was a Rotary Scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. In 1948, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where he completed his doctoral studies in 1951. There he met his wife, Barbara K. Stevenson, in 1952 as she was completing her studies in chemistry at the university. They were married in May 1953.


Viest left the University of Illinois in 1957 to become a bridge engineer at the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO). He joined Bethlehem Steel in 1961 as a structural engineer in its new Sales Engineering Division, where he attained the position of assistant manager in 1974 and worked until his retirement in 1983.


Viest was a recognized expert in the area of composite construction, which led to the publication of his first book in 1958. He served as Bethlehem Steel’s representative on the AISI Engineering Subcommittee that initiated significant research in steel structures, particularly for earthquake resistance. He became a member of the AISC Specification Committee in 1961 and served in that capacity for 40 years.


His achievements resulted in his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1978 and to becoming a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1980. He was awarded a doctor honoris causa from Technical University of Kosice in 2002 in the Slovak Republic. Upon his retirement from Bethlehem Steel, Viest opened a private consulting practice. He devoted significant time writing histories, such as the 75 years of the Engineering Foundation which he co-authored in 1991 with historian Lance Metz. As editor-in-chief, he also provided the overall coordination of the book Composite Construction-Design for Buildings, published by McGraw-Hill in cooperation with ASCE in 1997.


He wrote his autobiography, An Immigrant’s Story, in 2006. He also developed the English translation of his uncle General Rudolf M. Viest’s handwritten diaries, which chronicled his time in exile in London during World War II. General Viest was a member of the Czechoslovakia government and became a commander of the Army in Slovakia in 1944. He was captured by the Germans in 1944 and died in Berlin in 1945. Both are texts are available at


In addition to his involvement in engineering and interest in history, Viest was an avid sportsman and traveler. He was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, who died on January 24, 2012, and his older sister, Zora, who died in Slovakia in 2002. He is survived by his younger sister, Tatiana Maria Simkova, and several nieces and nephews in Slovakia.

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