Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Founder

Frederick J. Converse began his engineering career in 1916 as an instructor of Engineering in Rochester, New York. He worked with the U.S. Bureau of Aircraft Production doing physical testing of aircraft parts and served in the military providing engineering services for military facilities and war related projects throughout the western United States. Mr. Converse later worked as a Design Engineer for the Los Angeles City Bureau of Power & Light. In 1920 Mr. Converse began teaching Civil Engineering for the Throop Institute which is now known as California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.

While continuing to teach at Cal Tech, Mr. Converse established a partnership with R.V. Labarre in 1933; became a sole proprietor in 1936; established a partnership in 1940 with Donald R. Warren; then established our present firm in 1946. Mr. Converse was intrigued by soil and foundation engineering services throughout his career. His name bacame synonymous with “soils engineering". Frederick Converse was known for his enthusiasm for soils and foundation engineering and his friends and acquaintances knew him particularly well as a “gentleman”.


The 1936 International Conference on Soils Mechanics and Foundation Engineering launched soil mechanics, today known as geotechnical engineering, as a recognized discipline of civil engineering. The theoretical and experimental work of the men pictured provided the foundation of modern geotechnical engineering. Our founder (no. 15) Fred J. Converse (then a professor at Caltech) is credited mostly with work on pile engineering for deep foundations.