Dr. Ralph C.G. Haas passed away suddenly on Friday, June 19, 2020, leaving an extensive community of colleagues, friends and family in mourning.
Dr. Haas was Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo, a member of the Order of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada, the Engineering Institute of Canada and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, among many other honours and distinctions he earned throughout his life.
A proud engineer, wise academic, prolific author, and world-renowned expert in pavement design and asset management, Dr. Haas was also a distinguished, decorated and dedicated Honorary Life Member of TAC. He served as an active volunteer on numerous councils and committees, including on the Workforce Development Council, the Asset Management, Pavements, and Soils and Materials Committees at the time of his death. His attendance record was legendary in its longevity and perfection: in 55 years, he never missed a set of TAC spring technical meetings or an annual conference since his first.
Widely respected and admired, Dr. Haas was passionately committed to giving back to his country and profession. He was one of the founding members who laid groundwork and developed the TAC Foundation, which supports the education and training of tomorrow’s transportation professionals. Notably, he gave not only his time and expertise, but was extraordinarily generous in the personal donations he made to the Foundation over many years. Thanks to the vision and commitment of Dr. Haas, thousands of Canadian students have been supported in their pursuit of careers in transportation.
Indeed, Dr. Haas was a true educator, committed to all students. He genuinely cared about their progress and development, and remained interested as their careers advanced. On a personal note, Dr. Haas was one of my professors at the University of Waterloo, part of my examining committee during my graduate studies, and he recommended me for my first job at TAC. I am profoundly grateful for all the ways he influenced my career and I feel incredibly fortunate to have counted him as a mentor and friend for years. There are hundreds of stories like that – people who Dr. Haas advised, encouraged and supported in their education, their careers and their dreams. We are better for his guidance; better as individuals, better as a profession, better as a country. His death is a huge loss.
The passing of Ralph Haas truly marks the end of an era. After 55 years, it’s hard to imagine any TAC event without him, but we will raise a glass in remembrance, grateful for all that he has done, honoured to have known him, and missing him greatly.
Sarah Wells, P.Eng., Ph.D.