Academy of Distinguished Alumni

James H. Kleinfelder

James H. Kleinfelder MSCE, P.E.

Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni on

James H. Kleinfelder received his B.S. (1956) and M.S. (1962) degrees in Civil (Geotechnical) Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after graduation, he was offered a position with the City of Stockton, California, as a capital improvements project inspector and resident engineer.  While working for the City of Stockton, Mr. Kleinfelder also taught three engineering courses at the University of the Pacific. In 1961, his entrepreneurial instincts led him to start a small geotechnical and materials testing firm, first known as Stockton Testing and Controls, Inc.   After some early struggles, his company landed several large local contracts, which allowed him to invest in his own laboratory equipment and eventually open three additional offices in Merced, Fresno, and Sacramento, California. In 1966, the firm’s name was changed to J.H. Kleinfelder and Associates.

Throughout the late 1960s, 70s and 80s, J.H. Kleinfelder, under Mr. Kleinfelder’s leadership, pursued acquisitions and global ventures throughout North America and the Middle East while expanding the company’s capabilities to include a diverse set of engineering services. By the end of the 1980s, Kleinfelder had grown to more than 600 employees and $37 million in annual revenues. Mr. Kleinfelder retired as president and CEO of the company in 1993. Today, the firm he founded and led for many years is known as The Kleinfelder Group, an employee-owned architecture, engineering and science consulting firm with nearly 2,000 professionals in more than 60 offices globally.

Throughout his career, Mr. Kleinfelder was very active in the profession. He is a member of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and a lifetime member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  He has served terms as president of both the Hazardous Waste Action Coalition and the Associated Soils and Foundation Engineers (now known as ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association).

Throughout his career, Mr. Kleinfelder has been a supporter of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at Cal.  In recognition of this, in 2010, The Kleinfelder Group developed the James H. Kleinfelder Fellowship in Geotechnical Engineering which is given annually to a graduate student in the CEE Department.