Pat Fortney, Educator and Steel Industry Expert, Dies at 57

Patrick J. "Pat" Fortney, PE, PhD, a prominent contributor to the structural steel industry, passed away on October 12 at 57 from a heart attack.

A longtime construction industry professional, Fortney owned and managed his own company, Fortney Construction, from 1986 to 1998. Most recently, he was a professor in the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science.

An enthusiastic and prolific contributor to AISC activities, he was chair of AISC's Task Committee 2 Editorial Committee, a member and past vice chair of the Committee on Specifications, a member of the Task Committee on Connection Design, and a member of the Committee on Manuals. He wrote several articles for AISC's Engineering Journal—including recent papers on the chevron effect—presented live seminars on AISC's Seismic Design Manual as well as multiple webinars, and was a frequent speaker at NASCC: The Steel Conference. He was also recently involved with research for AISC on coupling beams.

"Pat was a great contributor to our industry," said AISC's chief of engineering staff, Thomas Schlafly. "He travelled the country giving design lectures that were professionally presented, and demonstrated a strong understanding of structure behavior, design, and fabrication. His proposals came with enlightening rationale, and the donation of his time was incredibly generous, initiating research projects that promised to improve economy and provide the knowledge we need."

"Pat was an inspiration to all of us," said Lawrence Kruth, PE, AISC’s vice president of engineering and research. "His in-depth knowledge was communicated through his work as a fabricator to help make our specifications better technically as well as meet the needs of the industry. He was a great leader in all of his committee work. He will be missed."

"Pat was the quintessential workaholic," recalled William "Bill" Thornton, PE, PhD of Cives Engineering Corporation, where Pat was employed from 2009 to 2016. "He was a great asset for Cives on many jobs. We collaborated on many research ideas in steel and published multiple papers jointly in the seven years we worked together. One of these papers was the basis for a change in the AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings and two others have revolutionized understanding of the analysis and design of chevron bracing connections."

Pat left Cives to accept a teaching position in his hometown of Cincinnati, at the University of Cincinnati, where he received both a BS and PhD in civil engineering.

"He always told me that he wanted to go back to teaching and research—he was a faculty member at Clemson and the University of Dayton before joining Cives—and that was what he succeeded in doing," said Thornton. "His time there was shortened by his untimely passing. He will be sorely missed by all his colleagues, and especially by me as a friend."

"We lost a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a researcher, a mentor, a musician, and an engineer," added Gian A. Rassati, PhD, a professor at the University of Cincinnati and colleague of Fortney’s. "His loss will be felt by all with whom he had ever interacted, and even those who never met him—such was the impact of his life."