In Memory: Neil Norman, P.E., F.NSPE
The engineering profession recently lost an influential member when NSPE Past President Neil Norman, P.E., F.NSPE, passed away on September 12 at age 87.
Over a more than 60-year career, the Torrance, California, native exemplified the hallmark professional traits of PEs, serving as a leader not only in the engineering profession, but also in his local community. In 2017, he was honored with the NSPE Award for outstanding contributions to the engineering profession, the public welfare, and humankind. It is the Society’s highest honor.
During his term as NSPE president in 1990–91, he led the Society into membership in the American Association of Engineering Societies, creating growth in the engineering community and allowing NSPE to continue its influence in advancing the knowledge, understanding, and practice of engineering. His work in promoting unity among engineering societies was recognized in 1995 when he received AAES’s Kenneth Roe Award.
Additionally, as NSPE president he testified before Congress regarding the PE’s responsibility to report hazards noticed on construction sites, paving the way for regulations that help make workplaces safer for engineers, contractors, civilians, and construction workers alike.
A PE in mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, and manufacturing engineering in several states, including Washington and California, he was a strong voice for engineering ethics and mentored dozens of young engineers throughout his career.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953 and an MBA from the University of Connecticut in 1959, Norman became a PE in 1960.
He worked for six different engineering firms over his career. At Pratt & Whitney, he designed, developed, and tested early jet engines; and at Aerojet he was a project manager for Polaris A3—the first submarine-launched nuclear missile—and the Apollo SPS moon orbit engine.
He also worked on nuclear plant design at Babcock & Wilcox and served as the project manager on the first thermal solar power tower plant while at Bechtel National Corp. At Roy F. Weston Inc., he advised the Department of Energy on the management of high-level waste repository design and construction, and he managed the U.S. Government Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Program across 10 states. Before retiring in 2003, he started and managed the Richland, Washington, office of Parsons Infrastructure & Technology Group Inc.
In retirement, Norman wrote opinion articles on engineering ethics for PE magazine and other publications, and gave lectures on engineering professionalism and ethics to Washington State University seniors. He also served on NSPE’s Board of Ethical Review, the Washington State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, the Washington Society of Professional Engineers, and the US Council on International Engineering Practice.