Phil M. Ferguson


Phil M. Ferguson

Researcher – Professional Engineer – Educator – Author

Teaching – ProfessionalOrganizations – Concrete Design – Textbooks

Forty-first National Honor Member Nominated by the University of Texas, Austin

Phil Moss Ferguson’s association with and devotion to the University of Texas as a student, teacher, department chairman, researcher, and professional engineer spanned more than 60 years. In 1976, he was appointed Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas signaling the end of 48 years on the active faculty.

Phil M. Ferguson was born in Bartlett, Texas, on November 16, 1899, the son of William Simpson and Annie (Moss) Ferguson. He graduated with a B.S. in C.E. from the University in 1923. He earned a M.S. degree from the University in 1924.

After graduation, he worked as a structural designer for a New York City firm until 1928. He spent several summers with the Bridge Division, Texas Highway Department, after becoming an Associate Professor of C.E. in 1928.

Phil M. Ferguson was the driving force in the development of the internationally-recognized structural engineering program at the University of Texas and, as department chairman (1943-47), provided leadership and stimulus for development of the highest ranked (American Council of Education) graduate program in Civil Engineering in the South and Southwest. He developed a reputation as an engineering teacher who was recognized for his teaching ability by receipt of the General Dynamics Award for Teaching Excellence in 1962.

He provided leadership in promptly translating research data into design practice. His research accomplishments involved many fields, but most noteworthy are a series of original contributions to advance comprehensive design recommendations for reinforced concrete structures. Each of his research programs reflected extensive knowledge of the specific problem as well as the impact of the problem on the total design and behavioral considerations of the member in question. His keen sense of engineering design, construction practice, and structural behavior developed as a practicing designer and nurtured by years of consulting and technical committee work provided him a breadth of view which led to many of the significant breakthroughs in modern concrete research.

Professor Ferguson’s famous text Reinforced Concrete Fundamentals was published initially soon after the American Concrete Institute took the first step forward allowing ultimate strength design. It was revised three times with the Fourth Edition published in 1979. The Ferguson text is a digest of available research, design aids, and philosophy. Careful inclusion of a balanced and unbiased evaluation of current design procedures, comprehensive and forceful emphasis of fundamentals, and incessant urging that tradition give way to truth and logic, justified his emphasis on fundamentals, and on ultimate strength procedures. The unusually wide acceptance of his book by the designer as well as the teacher stands as a measure of his work. His texts were influential in bringing about the acceptance of the new procedures which have led to far-reaching economies. His books and papers gave evidence of his creative farsightedness and deep understanding of structural engineering and technology.

His energies devoted to professional and technical organizations culminated in his service as president at the national or state levels in several important societies such as ACI and ASCE. He also served as a U.S. representative to several active European Committees on Concrete Commissions. He was named an Honorary Member of both the American Concrete Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers in recognition of his long and distinguished service to those societies.

His numerous other honors included: ACI, Wason Medal for Research (1954, 1958, 1968); ASCE, Research Prize (1961); and election to the National Academy of Engineering (1973). Both the University of Texas and the University of Wisconsin recognized him as a distinguished graduate.

Phil M. Ferguson was first elected to Chi Epsilon on November 21, 1936, at the University of Texas at Austin, chapter no. 13, chartered in 1934, as a Chapter Honor Member with a general number of 1823 and an individual chapter number of 33. He was elevated by Chi Epsilon as the 41st National Honor Member at Austin, Texas on March 29, 1980.

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