Axel Nitschke passes away, aged 547 January 2022
Tunnelling professionals globally are mourning the premature passing of US-based Dr Axel Nitschke, who died on December 26 and who was a much-valued contributor to Tunnels and Tunnelling International (T&T).
Born in Germany in 1968, Nitschke was to relocate with his family in 2008 to the US where he continued his distinguished tunnelling career in earnest. By the time his career tragically ended, he had worked with some of the biggest names in consultancy, leading tunnelling projects in the US, Canada, South America and Europe.
Throughout his career, Nitschke wrote numerous technical papers, some of which have become standards in the tunnel industry. In the last technical paper he wrote for Tunnels &Tunnelling (November 2020) he proposed a labelling and classification system designed to provide an effective and easy way to specify FRC for tunnel linings.
Nitschke graduated in 1993 with a master’s degree in civil engineering from Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany and immediately embarked on a PhD there, his thesis focusing on the loadbearing capacity of steel fibre-reinforced concrete in tunnelling. This he successfully completed in 1998. During his time at the university, he was also employed as an assistant professor and chair of construction technology, tunnelling and construction management.
There followed a highly successful career in tunnel design and consultancy in both Germany and subsequently the US, spanning well-known firms such as IMM, BeMo Tunnelling, Wayss & Freytag, Gall Zeidler, Shannon & Wilson, and WSP.
While at Gall Zeidler in Washington, Nitschke was senior tunnel engineer and then vice-president; later at Shannon & Wilson, also in Washington, he was Vice President, Director of Operations for Underground Services. From October 2015 to January 2021 at the American Shotcrete Association he was Chair of the Underground Committee, rising to Vice President of the Executive Committee. His time at ASA overlapped with some of his other employments.
Nitschke’s final role was as Vice President and Tunnel Practice Leader (NATM) at global engineering consultancy WSP in Washington where he started in June 2017.
He is survived by his wife, Anke and their four children. The funeral is to take place on 10 January in Fairfax, Virginia.