Michael Maher Obituary, Death – At Golder Associates Ltd., which is now a member of WSP, Dr. Michael Maher worked as a geotechnical, pavement, and materials engineer for his entire career. Michael, who was raised and received his education in Ireland, graduated with a doctorate in materials engineering from Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1978 he started working for Golder as a geotechnical engineer in London, Canada.
Early in the 1980s, Michael relocated to the east to support and expand Golder’s office in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1990, he made his way back to Ontario to work with a select group of coworkers to found the Whitby office’s Center of Excellence for Materials Engineering. Michael was instrumental in establishing the cutting-edge materials laboratory in Whitby, introducing Superpave technology to Golder, and expanding the company’s materials engineering operations in Canada.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Michael spent a year setting up a Golder office in Qatar. While there, he established a prosperous transportation practice before returning to Canada to continue expanding his materials engineering practice. Returning to Ireland in 2005, Michael worked in the Naas (Dublin) office; the majority of his work was devoted to pyrite heave investigation and the subsequent litigation work.
In 2010, he moved back to Whitby, Ontario, where he continued to offer his materials engineering expertise on a variety of international projects, including those involving residential and public infrastructure, roads and highways, airports, dams, and mines. Michael has spent the last few decades of his career investigating problems relating to building materials in his native Ireland and researching the effects of pyrite in structural fill aggregates, all in the service of litigation work in a number of well-known court cases in Dublin and elsewhere.
When he returned from Ireland to Ontario, additional legal work brought him into contact with the problems involving pyrrhotite in concrete in Quebec. Michael worked on numerous committees and standards-related organizations throughout his career, including the National Standards Association of Ireland, the Transportation Research Board in the United States, and the CCIL, SWIFT, and CTAA in Canada. These organizations all supported the development, review, and improvement of technical standards.
Additionally, he belonged to Canada’s Arbitration and Mediation Institute. More than 100 technical papers and articles on a variety of subjects, including pavement evaluation, building materials, pyritic aggregates, and the application of sustainability principles to road rehabilitation strategies, were published by him in Canada, the US, Europe, and Asia. He frequently mentored and worked alongside less experienced colleagues on these projects.
On these topics, Michael gave nearly 200 technical presentations. He shared his knowledge and experience with a large audience by writing Chapter 4, “Soils and soil testing for roadworks,” in the most recent, 5th 2015 edition of “Highways” by O’Flaherty, probably one of the most important and popular books for highway engineers worldwide. Most recently, while still semi-retired, he found the time and motivation to write a book on pyrite and pyrrhotite, which will be published soon.
Michael was an expert in his field thanks to his sharp intellect, inquisitive mind, and strong mentorship modeling. When problems did not have satisfactory solutions, his innate curiosity drove him to continually probe and ask “why” or “how,” and he always had his eyes on the future, looking ahead to new technologies and the young engineers and technicians who were going to implement them.
As a result, he constantly looked for chances to include young engineers, technicians, and scientists in his investigations, and he promoted both inside and outside of the “usual bounds” exploration. Michael was always eager to assist others, including engineers, technical experts, business owners, and lawyers, in resolving challenging problems, particularly those pertaining to the building of bridges, highways, and airports. His suggestions and assistance were priceless.
Michael was a wonderful colleague who, to many who shared his enthusiasm for their work and Golder, evolved into a true mentor and friend. Many business leaders, both within Golder and across the industry, owe Michael a debt of gratitude for his time and unwavering dedication to improving the engineering world. Michael, please go in peace. The numerous endeavors you have influenced and the individuals you have inspired will carry on your legacy.