Ben Clifford Gerwick, Jr. received a B.S. (1940) degree summa cum laude in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. For more than 65 years, he led an extraordinary career spanning both academia and industry, with a focus on construction management and marine engineering.
After graduation from Berkeley, Mr. Gerwick, served in the U.S. Navy from 1940 until 1946, achieving the rank of Commander. He then joined his family’s company, Ben C. Gerwick, Inc., a heavy marine construction firm founded in 1926 by his father. He worked his way up starting as field engineer and rising to become President of the firm in 1952. The firm merged with J.H. Pomeroy and then became part of Santa Fe International. In 1971, he joined the Berkeley Civil Engineering faculty, establishing an academic program in construction engineering and management. In the same year, he set up a specialized consulting engineering practice, continuing with the company name Ben C. Gerwick, Inc. At the time of his death in 2006, at the age of 87, he was Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Prof. Gerwick conceived and developed a broad range of engineering and construction innovations related to bridge, foundation, marine, and offshore structures. These include innovations in prestressed concrete piles and bridge girders, prestressed concrete cryogenic containment vessels, soldier pile and tremie concrete (SPTC) excavation support systems, corrosion protection for concrete reinforcing steel, and others. His later research activities centered on problems encountered in the construction of concrete ocean structures in hostile Arctic and North Sea environments. His research findings were widely implemented around the world and his mark on marine and construction engineering continues to be profound. He was also a gifted communicator and author. Among the more than 200 technical papers, book chapters, and other publications he authored or coauthored, are the widely-used books Construction of Prestressed Concrete and Construction of Marine and Offshore Structures.
In recognition of his contributions and accomplishments, Prof. Gerwick received numerous awards and honors from professional and national societies worldwide. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 1974. He received the Golden Beaver Award for Engineering in 1976, the highest award of “The Beavers,” the preeminent heavy engineering construction association in the U.S. He is also recipient of the Emil Morsch Medal from the German Concrete Society (1979); the Berkeley Citation (1989); and the Freyssinet Gold Medal at the IX Congress of the International Federation of Prestressing (FIP) for his work in extending the application of prestressed concrete to marine and offshore structures in the North Sea and Arctic (1982). In 1990, he was elected to the Berkeley Fellows (1990).