Donald F. Meinheit
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc.
Donald Meinheit grew up in Matteson, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago. His father and grandfather owned a lumber and building materials supply yard and a ready-mix concrete batching plant. Early on, Don understood the supply side of construction. However, the design of structures was more intriguing to him than their construction.
Don batched ready-mix concrete during summer months between semesters at Purdue. Concrete construction and understanding the code to design concrete structures became his challenge. He graduated from Purdue in January 1966. After completing a Master's program at the University of Illinois in 1968, Don took his first industry job at the Portland Cement Association (PCA) Research and Development Laboratories in Skokie, Illinois. Researching behavior of structures was exciting, especially concrete structures where the material properties vary, and creep, shrinkage and cracking must be considered in design. Curiosity about materials behavior was burned into his DNA at PCA.
In 1972, Don left PCA for The University of Texas at Austin to pursue a greater in-depth knowledge of concrete structures and to earn a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering.
Following several years of teaching at the University of Notre Dame, an opportunity arose for employment at the consulting firm of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE) where Don worked full time from 1979 through 2005. During that 27-year period, he was responsible for many initiatives including laboratory testing of anchors in concrete, quality control testing of prestressed concrete transit crossties, quality auditing of facilities, repairing structures including cast-in-place concrete parking garages and precast spandrel beams and corbels on columns. One pinnacle of the testing work at WJE was a research project on welded headed studs for the Precast Concrete Institute (PCI). Results of that research were used to write the design procedures for welded headed studs in the PCI Design Handbook.
Although retired, Don continues to work part-time at WJE where he consults and mentors young staff members. He also taught at Purdue during the fall semesters of 2011 and 2013.
Don and his wife Marian have two daughters, Janet and Lara (Phil Miller) and four grandchildren, Amanda, Sophie, Grant and Greta.