A tribute to Ralph Haas from Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International

Ralph Haas passed away suddenly on Friday, June 19, 2020 at his residence.  He was 87, or as he would have said, 39 for the 48th time, for he had a wonderful sense of humour, self- deprecating humour that endeared him to colleagues and friends alike.

Ralph Haas in a classroom with students in the backgroundHe was a stalwart runner for much of his life.  This enabled him to stay remarkably fit as the years mounted, but as he transitioned into his eighties he was known to acknowledge on occasion with a wry smile that his gait had transformed into more of a shuffle.

Ralph was the highly respected Norman W. McLeod Engineering Professor and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

He was known in the engineering world as “the father of pavement asset management." Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that his pioneering concepts and technologies have resulted in better-performing, safer and less costly road networks, not just in Canada, but across the developed world.

The author of 12 books and numerous technical articles on pavement and infrastructure asset management, he was also an ardent educator whose students have themselves become leaders in transportation agencies, consultancies and universities across the world.

Ralph received numerous awards and honours over the years in recognition of the stellar research he and his students carried out.  He was a member of the Order of Canada and the Engineering Institute of Canada, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals.

His professional service included serving as director of the Applied Science and Engineering Division of Academy III of the Royal Society of Canada, the inaugural Director and Founder of the Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology at the University of Waterloo,  and Chair of Waterloo’s Department of Civil Engineering.

The University of Waterloo officially named “The Ralph Haas Infrastructure and Sensing Analysis Laboratory” in his honour in 2014. That same year he received the US National Academies Transportation Research Board’s highest honour, the Roy W. Crum Award, for Outstanding Achievement in Transportation Research.

Ralph has been a longstanding, highly effective member of the Waterloo Awards Committee.

He brought to the Committee knowledge of the Institution and the Professoriate that was both broad and penetrating. 

As Vice-President Research, I would like to acknowledge the stellar and generous contributions he made over the years to ensuring that deserving colleagues were not only nominated for prestigious national and international awards, but received these awards. 

His contributions included identifying and championing eligible nominees, providing counsel on how to prepare strong nomination packages and writing nomination letters.

For this, the University of Waterloo community thanks him.