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Dr. Jorj O. Osterberg - In Memorium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Randy Post   
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 03:14

Dr. Jorj O. Osterberg, inventor of the Osterberg Cell or "O-Cell" used for drilled shaft load tests has passed away at the age of 93.  According to the Association of Drilled Shaft Contractors or ADSC, he died peacefully in his sleep on June 1, 2008. The geotechnical community has lost a truly legendary figure in our field.

Osterberg held degrees from Columbia, Harvard and Cornell Universities. He was a Professor Emeritus from Northwestern University. He was a former Chairman of the Soil Mechanics and Foundation Division of the ASCE, an Honorary Member of ASCE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  He delivered the Terzaghi Lecture in 1985, and later received the Terzaghi Award.  He was one of the last surviving founding members of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Deep Foundations Institute and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Drilled Shaft Contractors. (Adapted from a bio for the 2001 Burmister Lecture, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia University). Read on for more.

From LOADTEST, Inc.:

Dr. Jorj O. Osterberg is one of the true pioneers of geotechnical engineering. He has long been recognized for his innovations in soil sampling and testing (including his invention of the Osterberg Sampler). Following a long and distinguished career as a teacher and consultant, Dr. Osterberg is professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering, Northwestern University. Other honors and associations include: Honorary Member - American Society of Civil Engineers, Member - National Academy of Engineering, 1985 Terzaghi Lecturer (ASCE), 1988 Distinguished Service Award - Deep Foundations Institute and recipient of the Royal Swedish Medal. In 1983 the ADSC (The International Association of Foundation Drilling) concluded that "one of the most needed advances in the drilled shaft industry was the development of a relatively low cost, mobile, fairly simple to evaluate load test system..." Dr. Osterberg responded to this challenge. With the help of Charlie Guild of American Equipment and Fabricating Company he developed the deep foundation load testing system that would meet the construction industry’s needs.

Dr. Osterberg’s invention, the Osterberg Cell, or "O-Cell", has radically changed the way deep foundation load tests are designed, performed, and interpreted. [Editor] At right, a schematic diagram of a drilled shaft load test setup with "O-Cell". By LOADTEST, Inc. [/Editor]  In recognition or this achievement, he won the NOVA Award in 1994. The prestigious NOVA Award is given by the Construction Innovation Forum, an international non-profit organization which recognizes innovations leading to improved efficiency and cost effectiveness in the construction industry. Nominations for this award are made from all segments of the construction industry and represent efforts of owners, contractors, architects, engineers, and others. The nominations represent proven cost savings and quality improvement on actual projects. The NOVA Award, which has been referred to as the "Nobel Prize" for construction, is awarded annually to noteworthy innovative solutions, processes, or products that improve the quality, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of construction. The Construction Innovation Forum is an international, non-profit organization established in 1987. Roger Lane of the Detroit Edison Company is the organization’s Chair. The Forum is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan at 1000 Campus Drive, Suite 100, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-6792. Telephone 313 995-1855; fax 313-995-5002; e-mail:

Dr. Osterberg is still active as a consultant to LOADTEST Inc. Jorj Osterberg lives year-round in Aurora, Colorado.

ADSC indicates that a full account of his career will appear in a future issue of their Foundation Drilling Magazine.


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2008 03:26