Vitelmo V. Bertero, a pioneer in earthquake engineering research and a specialist in post-quake damage investigation, died on Oct. 24 at age 93. From 1958 until 1991, while a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, he developed methods of seismic design for both steel moment and braced frames, reinforced-concrete frames and shear walls, and masonry structures, says the university’s Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. Bertero was ENR’s Man of the Year in 1990.
During his career, Bertero conducted pioneering research on many subjects, including elastic and inelastic seismic structural response. He also developed a conceptual framework for performance-based earthquake engineering. Bertero inspected structural damage after numerous major temblors, including the 1964 Alaska earthquake, the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge quakes in California, and the 1995 Kobe quake in Japan.
Bertero was “extremely active at advancing the profession not only at the university level but at the national level and international level,” said the late Frank Barron, then a UC-Berkeley professor emeritus, in the ENR profile related to the researcher’s award. Consulting engineer Chris D. Poland said Bertero had the “ability to recognize what our needs are and meld those with the research.”
Born in 1923 in Esperanza, Argentina, Bertero received a degree in engineering from the Universidad del Litoral in Rosario, Argentina, in 1947, as well as advanced degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.