Arthur “Fritz” Beck, a transportation engineer, professor, and former ASCE Dallas Branch president, has died. He was 91.
For more than 50 years, every motorist in the Dallas–Fort Worth area and elsewhere in North Texas has driven on roadways, highways, interchanges, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure touched in some way by his engineering talents.
Beck, P.E., F.ASCE, whose career spanned 67 years, was a past ASCE Dallas Branch president and the Texas Section’s vice president for educational affairs. As a young man in Indiana, “Fritz” was forever fascinated with machines and “how things worked”; later on, he liked to tell how he abandoned a law school education in favor of engineering, where “two plus two equals four, not what you want it to be!”
He served four years in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineering Corps as a lieutenant (junior grade) in the Philippines and elsewhere. Back home, Beck eventually earned a master’s degree in civil engineering from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He became a licensed professional engineer in three states, and a registered surveyor in Texas. In 1957 he joined the Texas Society of Professional Engineers and ultimately became its president.
Beck was an engineer with the Texas Highway Department for more than a decade, and was responsible for the Dallas–Fort Worth Regional Transportation Study. After a stint as a leader with R.L. Goodson Consulting Engineers, he left to form a new firm, Beck, Sandhu, and Martin Inc., which in 1996 changed names to BSM Consulting Engineers Inc. He remained there as principal until his retirement in 2018.
Beck supervised freeway construction projects in the Dallas area, preparing geometric layouts for interchanges and participating in several transportation planning seminars. Among his other projects were Dallas County Community Colleges and the McDonald Observatory (Big Bend area) for the University of Texas System. He was also involved in the planning and design of rural and municipal sewage treatment facilities, drainage systems, and utility designs at National Parks as well as in numerous traffic and pavement studies.
“The DFW community has truly lost an engineering legend, special friend, and mentor to so many of us civil engineers,” said Abel V. Saldaña, P.E., CFM, project manager of the Dallas County Planning & Development Department’s HUD/CDBG Program.
He returned to Southern Methodist University to teach as an adjunct professor of civil engineering from 1979 through 1992, at which time civil engineering was discontinued. When the program returned to SMU in 2003, Beck again answered the call to teach, all the while continuing to run his company.
He won numerous awards, including TSPE’s Engineer of the Year, and was a member of Consulting Engineers Council (past President, North Texas Chapter) and the Water Pollution Control Federation. He was an avid reader, especially of U.S. history.