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JAMES E. ROBERTS

1930–2006

Elected in 1996

“For the development and implementation of innovative
bridge retrofit concepts and criteria under seismic conditions.”

BY RICHARD DOKKEN
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY

JAMES E. ROBERTS, a longtime leader in the bridge design profession, died on July 6, 2006, at the age of 75. He was born on November 24, 1930, in Missouri and moved with his family to California when he was 6.

Jim Roberts held a number of significant engineering titles throughout his 50-plus-year career, including state bridge engineer for California and chief deputy director for the California Department of Transportation. He was a leader during the state’s highway and bridge construction boom in the 1950s and 1960s. He is the only Caltrans employee to have been inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. Jim earned his bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science from the University of Southern California (USC). He was a registered professional engineer. He served on active duty in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean conflict and in all served 33 years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He retired as a colonel. His obituary called him “An Engineer’s Engineer,” a term respectfully coined by a coworker. Roberts did not identify himself as an engineer’s engineer, however.

He always maintained a professional attitude, work ethic, and appearance in the office, which carried over, in part, from his military experience. His career at Caltrans started in 1951



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