Paul Zia, North Carolina State University professor emeritus of civil engineering and Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Emeritus, who lent his concrete expertise to shoring up lighthouses, has died. He was 97.

Known as keenly intelligent, thoughtful, and humble, Zia also had a funny side, occasionally amusing family and coworkers alike with sheer goofiness. His serious achievements earned him election to the National Academy of Engineering, and as an ASCE distinguished member, among many other honors.

Zia, Ph.D., P.E., NAE, Dist.M.ASCE, dedicated more than 50 years to teaching, research, and consulting in many areas of concrete materials, reinforced and prestressed concrete structures, and construction. He conducted sponsored research on torsion and shear, bond and development length, loss of prestress, applications of high-performance and high-strength concrete, self-consolidating concrete, jointless bridge decks, and cracking in large prestressed concrete girders.

As a consulting engineer on the 1999 move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Zia received the National Park Service Citizen’s Award for Exceptional Service.

His studies also included assessment of high-performance concrete bridges, development of a nondestructive test method for measuring air permeability of concrete, the use of self-consolidating concrete in highway structures, and application of corrosion-resistant high-strength MMFX steel for concrete structures. Further work was done on the structural applications of new proprietary materials called Grancrete and Elimix Admixture.

Zia advised more than 60 master’s and doctoral students. He was a registered professional engineer in North Carolina, an honorary member of the American Concrete Institute, and a fellow of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. He served as chairman and member of many technical and administrative committees in these organizations, including a term as ACI president from 1989-90. He received his degree from the University of Florida, which honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983.

His achievements in teaching, research, and professional activities earned Zia many other honors and awards, among them election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1983; the NCSU Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Engineering Research Award from 1978-1980; the ASEE Lamme Medal in 1986; and the NCSU Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal of Excellence in 1993, the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member by the university’s board of trustees. PCI named him Distinguished Educator of the Year in 2004.