Friday, March 31, 2017

In Memoriam: Geoffrey Kulak

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UAlberta In Memoriam
The University of Alberta banner is flying at half-mast in remembrance of Geoffrey Kulak, Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Geoffrey L. Kulak, PE, PhD, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and one of the world’s leading experts on the behavior of welded and bolted connections, passed away last week. Kulak also was a recognized authority on fatigue of fabricated steel members and member stability.

“Geoff was always willing to help the design and construction community and often gave lectures for AISC and others,” said Larry Kruth, AISC’s vice president of engineering and research. “And, of course, he was a prolific author of papers that helped to advance the state of the art of steel design and construction.” In 2016, he received an AISC Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his incredible lifetime of work and in 2000 he received an AISC Special Achievement Award for his contributions to the Second Edition of the Guide to Design Criteria for Bolted and Riveted Joints.

He was a professor of civil engineering for nearly 30 years at the University of Alberta. He has also been a longtime leader in the steel industry through active involvement in the Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC) and AISC activities. For more than two decades he served as an officer of RCSC in several different positions, and he has written and presented numerous RCSC and AISC seminars on bolting that have been well received as both practical and understandable. He has also published extensively on the subject and is the author of AISC Design Guide 17: High Strength Bolts - A Primer for Structural Engineers.

Originally published, with photo, by Modern Steel Construction

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  1. Dr. Kulak was the seminal professor that taught me, a fledgeling mechanical engineer, the basics of civil engineering. His 'tough but fair' approach to teaching was legendary. I well remember attending my first two classes with Dr. Kulak. In the first class, which started promptly at 1 p.m., Dr. Kulak was busy writing on the chalkboard. Two students opened the door at 1:05 to slip quietly into the back of the class. Without missing a beat and without looking back, Dr. Kulak said, "You're late. You can't come to this class late. Get out!" Boom! We were all all on time for the next class. Alas, second class, someone decided to bring 'lunch' into the class. "You can't eat in here. Eat before you get here. Get out!" Third class, everyone is on time and fully fed.

    His teaching style was incredible. He kept a steady pace but he also regularly stopped and engaged the class. "What is the bending moment at the end of that beam Jim?" ..."Uh, I don't have my calculator Dr. Kulak, let me..."..."Class, does Jim need a calculator to figure out the bending moment on the end of that beam?" (of course, it was zero!). And if you had a question during office hours (I had a few), he was kind, clear, patient.

    I got to know "Geoff" as the Faculty's fundraiser but I never really got comfortable with calling him anything but Dr. Kulak.

    We have lost a giant. One whose passing makes me thankful that I was lucky enough to have crossed his path. We will not see his like again.

    RIP Dr. Kulak. I will remember you.

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