Dan Witcher spent the first 15 years of his career as a structural engineer working with steel, concrete and heavy construction materials for bridges and structural facilities. While working as a consultant in 1991, he was looking for potential materials for a building exposed to salt air within a major chemical complex in Tennessee. He considered using composites; however, none met all the needs of the structure. “But that sparked my interest in composites,” says Witcher.
In 1992, Witcher began working for Strongwell to develop its structural engineering group and grow the use of composites in structural applications. “We were blessed to have a lot of great success at Strongwell with composite bridge constructions and buildings all over the world,” he says.
After 20 years at Strongwell, Witcher joined Enduro Composites last fall as the vice president of engineering. He heads Enduro’s engineering and quality departments as well as three plants – two in Houston and one in Freeport, Texas.
Witcher is chairman of the Pultrusion Industry Council’s (PIC) Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) Subcommittee, in which he has been heavily involved for more than six years. The PIC has developed an American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard called the Industry Guidelines for Fabrication and Installation of Pultruded FRP Structures. “It will allow engineers and architects to use composite products in large structural jobs,” says Witcher.
“Without the work of dedicated members of the composites industry like Dan, the LRFD standard would not have become a reality,” says Ellen Lackey, professor of engineering at the University of Mississippi.
Married for 34 years, Witcher has four children – two are registered civil engineers. He believes that composites are currently in the early stages of structural materials and have a bright future.