František Faltus

Date of birth: 5. ledna 1901 Vídeň

Death date: 6. října 1989 Praha


Prof. Ing. Dr. František Faltus, DrSc., a long-time teacher, technical expert and author of many professional publications, was an eminent pioneer in the field of welded steel structures. In the 1930s, he became one of the first design engineers in the world to design solid welded beams. Throughout his life, František Faltus sought to develop the discipline of steel design engineering, both on the theoretical level of teaching and research and in the practical application in construction.

He was born in a Czech family in Vienna, where he also attended secondary school and later the Vienna Technical University (he also became a trainer and then the chief of the Vienna I Sokol Union). After graduation he joined the Waagner-Biro company in 1923, where he immediately became involved in the design of the bridge over the Danube Canal. During his time at the Viennese company, he undertook several business study trips, where he also became acquainted for the first time with manual arc welding, a technological innovation in the field of joining steel structures.

In 1925 he received a doctorate at the Vienna Technical University for his work on the calculation of statically indeterminate structures. A year later, he accepted a position at the Department of Bridge Structures of the Škoda Works in Pilsen. In the same year he gained Czechoslovak citizenship and also attended the founding congress of the international engineering organization IABSE – the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering. In the following years he attended a number of international congresses dedicated to the design and realisation of bridges, steel constructions and welding of iron and steel.

In the Škoda Works, where he soon became head of the welding department, Faltus sought to apply the latest know-how in production. Thus, immediately after returning from the IABSE Congress, he initiated the commencement of load-bearing tests for welded steel joints. Thanks to his pioneering activity, the longest welded truss bridge in the world, with a span of over 49 meters (C10–SJII) was completed in the main company premises in 1931. Two years later, this span was surpassed by the welded arched bridge over the Radbuza River in Pilsen-Doudlevce (C7–TM), the first of its kind ever. Today's Tyrš Bridge, also constructed according to Faltus’s design, stretched over an almost 200-meter-wide valley.

In 1938 the appointment of František Faltus to the post of professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague was discussed. However, the closure of Czech universities in November 1939 prevented this, and Faltus remained at the Škoda Works until the end of World War II. Together with Škoda engineers and J. Blažek, he designed a bridge over the Váh River in Bytča at that time. In 1945 he began lecturing at the Polytechnic School of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague (incorporated into the newly established Faculty of Civil Engineering in 1960), but he continued his collaboration with the Škoda Works. Shortly after the war, together with other colleagues at the faculty, he also renewed the activities of the First Bridge Construction Institute. He was also the head of the Institute – later the Department of Steel Structures – in 1946-1970 he established there a welding laboratory and supported the scientific and research activities of teachers.

He was also involved in publishing a large number of university textbooks, scientific publications, as well as welding manuals intended for practical use. Since 1953 he was a correspondent of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. In the years 1958-1967 he played an important part in the design of the Žďákov Bridge spanning the Orlík Dam. At that time, the world's largest steel plate-girder arch was used in the project.

Professor Faltus's renown spread far beyond the borders of Czechoslovakia. He lectured in many European countries, in the USSR, China and the USA. In 1963 he was awarded a state honour; over the years he also won the CTU Gold Felber Medal and two Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences Gold Plaques. Thanks to his work with the IABSE, he became an honorary member of this organisation and received an honorary doctorate at the Technical University of Dresden.

František Faltus worked at the CTU until 1972. In later years he focused mainly on expert consultations and assessments. He was called in to the construction of the Štefánik (then Šverma) Bridge in Prague and sat on the jury of the competition to design the bridge over the Nusle Valley. He died in October 1989.

A foundation of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the Czech Technical University has born his name since 2001. The foundation aims to support students, PhD students and teachers in the field of steel structures at this faculty.