Professor Jim Wight’s crown grows heavy, as it is made of concrete. His former graduate students made the crown, which includes a plaque that reads “King of Concrete.”
While Wight is not officially a king, he has been recognized in many ways for his expertise and service in the field of concrete.
In April 2013 the House of Representatives recognized Wight for his leadership to the American Concrete Institute (ACI). Representative Gary C. Peters stated “I rise today to recognize James K. Wight, a resident of Michigan, for his volunteer leadership to the American Concrete Institute (ACI) … an organization whose work is fundamental to our nation's critical infrastructure, key to our economic competitiveness. As a Member of Congress, I am privileged and honored to recognize Dr. Wight for his leadership and lifelong commitment to this organization and to advancing concrete knowledge in the United States and abroad.”
Wight has also received the following awards from ACI: Delmar Bloem Distinguished Service Award (1991), the Joe Kelly Award for outstanding efforts for the education of students in design of reinforced concrete structures (1999), the Boise Award for outstanding accomplishments in research, teaching and service in the field of structural concrete (2002), and he has received three “best journal paper” awards, including the Wason Medal (2012) for the best overall paper published by ACI in either the Structural or Materials Journal.
The Martin tower in Seattle is the first tower in the USA to use shear wall coupling beams (link beams) constructed with steel fiber-reinforced concrete. The design of those beams relied on the research of Wight and Dr. Gustavo J. Parra-Montesinos that experimentally demonstrated the use of fiber-reinforced concrete to dramatically reduce the need for diagonal bars and heavy confinement steel, while still maintaining comparable performance as assumed in the original design of The Martin.
Wight is not only known for his research in the field of earthquake-resistant design, he is also known for his outstanding teaching. Perhaps one of the most telling pieces of evidence of this occurred when the news about his recognition from the House of Representatives was shared on the CEEFA LinkedIn page.
Alumnus Atul Bhobe wrote on LinkedIn: “I took his Structural design and Reinforced Concrete Design in 1985-86. He was a great teacher and I still retain my notes and his handouts from that course. His insights on ACI 318 design code were amazing and although I am a consulting engineer in India and have hardly referred to the code in last couple of decades, I still remember the amazing experience of learning from him.”
The University of Michigan has selected Wight for several teaching awards including: the ASCE Student Chapter Teacher of the Year Award (eight times), the College of Engineering's Distinguished Service and Teaching Excellence Awards, the State of Michigan Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Chi Epsilon-Great Lakes District Excellence in Teaching Award.
Wight was the first CEE recipient of the Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. This award is intended “to honor and encourage the considerable efforts and accomplishments of faculty who consistently serve as effective mentors of doctoral students, the Rackham School of Graduate Studies has established the Graduate Mentoring Awards for tenured faculty from any discipline.”
Wight has been the advisor for over thirty PhD students, ten of which hold tenured positions at leading US universities.