Mr. Wacker is the co-director of the National Center for Wood Transportation Structures and works as a research engineer at the Forest Products Laboratory, a national laboratory within the United States Forest Service. He has been involved with various aspects of timber bridge research in the field and in the laboratory. Over the past 25 years, Mr. Wacker has led a handful of national field studies aimed at characterizing the performance or durability characteristics of highway bridges. More recently, he has been involved with the evaluation of several nondestructive evaluation techniques for inspection of timber bridge structures. As a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he served as chairperson for the timber bridges technical committee and currently serves on its technical activities executive committee. He is also a registered professional engineer in the state of Wisconsin.
- BS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Research Engineer, Research Work Unit: Engineering Properties of Wood, Wood-based Composites, and Structures, Forest Products Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, Madison, WI
Primary Research Areas
- Development of New Live Load Testing Techniques for Historic Covered Bridges
- Development of Smart Timber Bridge Concepts: A Multiple Phase Effort
- Development of Timber Bridge Standard Design Aids to comply with AASHTO-LRFD
- National Study on the Durability of Timber Bridges in Different Climates
- Nationwide Bridge Monitoring Program for Stress-Laminated Deck Bridges
Primary Research Activities
Mr. Wacker’s research work over most of the past three decades was focused primarily on timber bridges and other related timber transportation structures. He managed an extensive field monitoring program that evaluated stress-laminated timber deck bridges at over 75 field locations throughout the United States during the 1990’s. This work collectively was the basis for adoption of stress-laminated design procedures by the AASHTO-LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. His current work is aimed at new smart bridge concepts to support development of a turnkey health monitoring system capable of monitoring, interpreting, and reporting on the performance and condition of timber highway bridges. James recently served as chair of the ASCE/SEI technical committee on timber bridges from 2007-2010, and served as chair of the ASCE/SEI Technical Advisory Committee on Bridges from 2010-2013.
He has authored more than 65 technical publications related to the utilization of timber as structural material for bridges and other transportation structures. He has worked cooperatively with the States of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Louisiana, South Dakota, and the Federal Highway Administration regarding the performance of their timber bridges and other transportation structures.
- Hosteng, T., J. Wacker, and B. Phares. 2013. Condition Assessment of Iowa Timber Bridges Using Advanced Inspection Tools. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Timber Bridges. Las Vegas, Nevada, Sept. 30–Oct. 2.
- Hosteng, T., J. Wacker, and B. Phares. 2013. Live Load Testing of Historic Covered Timber Bridges. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of Timber Bridges. Las Vegas, NV, September 30 –October 2nd.
- Wacker, J. P., X. Wang, D. R. Rammer, and B. M. Woodward. 2011. NDE Investigation of the Timber Foundation in the Historic Kennecott Mine Concentration Mill Building. Proceedings of the 17th International Nondestructive Testing and Evaluation of Wood Symposium, Vol. 2. University of West Hungary, Sopron, Hungary, Sept. 14–16.
- Wacker, J. P., X. Wang, D. R. Rammer, and W. J. Nelson. 2011. Evaluation of a Timber Column Bent Substructure After More Than 60 Years in Service. Proceedings of CIMAD11 – 1st Iberian/Latin American Conference on Timber Construction. Coimbra, Portugal. June 7–9.
- Wacker, J. P. 2010. Use of Wood in Buildings and Bridges. Chapter 17 in FPL-GTR-190. Wood Handbook-Wood as an Engineering Material, Centennial Edition. Forest Products Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, Madison, WI.
- Wacker, J. P., X. Wang, D. E. Kretschmann, and D. R. Rammer. 2010. Nondestructive Evaluation of Timber Highway Guardrail Posts. Proceedings of the World Conference on Timber Engineering. Trentino, Italy. June 20-25.
- Wacker, J. P., X. Wang, and D. R. Rammer. 2010. Field Investigation of a 100-Year-Old Timber Crib Foundation At A Historic Copper Mine. Proceedings of the World Conference on Timber Engineering. Trentino, Italy. June 20-25, 2010.
- Wacker, J. P. and S. R. Duwadi. 2010. Overview of the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program. Proceedings of the ASCE Structures Congress. Orlando, FL. May 12–15.
- Wacker, J. P., U. Deza, B. M. Phares, and T. J. Wipf. 2010. Development of a Smart Timber Bridge Girder with Fiber Optic Sensors. Proceedings of the International Conference on Timber Bridges. Lillehammer, Norway. Sept. 13-14.
- Wacker, J. P., and J. S. Groenier. 2010. Comparative Analysis of Design Codes for Timber Bridges in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Vol. 2200, pp. 163–168.
- Phares, B., T. J. Wipf, J. P. Wacker, and U. Deza. 2010. Development of a Smart Timber Bridge: A Five Year Plan. FPL-GTR-195. Forest Products Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, Madison, WI.
- Wacker, J. P. 2009. Performance of Stress-Laminated Timber Highway Bridges in Cold Climates. Proceedings of the 14th Conference on Cold Regions Engineering. pp 637–647, Duluth, MN, Aug. 29–Sept. 2.
- Wacker, J. P. 2008. Timber Bridge Deterioration Issues and Performance Measures. Proceedings of the Enhancing Bridge Performance Workshop. Reston, VA, Feb. 21–22.
Professional Affiliations, Honors, and Awards
- Current (incoming) Member, Exec. Committee, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2015.
- Past Chair, ASCE Technical Committee on Bridges, October 2010 thru September 2013.
- Past Chair, ASCE Timber Bridge Technical Committee, October 2006 thru September 2010.
- Past Chair, Forest Products Society-Midwest Section, July 2010 thru June 2011.
- Current Member, ASCE Timber Bridge Technical Committee, 2003 – 2010, 2014 – present.
- Transportation Research Board Committee A2C05 – Committee on Dynamics and Field Testing of Bridges, friend of committee, 2003-current.
- USDA Group Honor Award recipient as member of the FPL Wood in Transportation Team for outstanding achievements in developing and implementing technology for the improved use of timber in bridges and other transportation structures, June 1997.
- Past Member of the Forest Products Society (FPS), 2005-2015.
- Current Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2001-present.