Jack E. Leisch’s professional career has spanned more than 54 years. During that period, Jack worked in virtually all sectors of the transportation engineering profession—governmental, educational and, in recent years, private. He has distinguished himself by his knowledge and his application of transportation engineering and has increased the body of knowledge of the science through his research and development of new and innovative techniques and his teaching of those techniques to members of the profession.
Jack is perhaps best known for his work in highway planning and geometric design. In the early part of his career, he directed research projects for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads on roadway geometrics and on geometric design criteria as they relate to the operation of freeways. In 1936 he became Chief of the Bureau’s Design Development Branch—a position that he held for 20 years. Jack left the public sector in 1956 and joined DeLeuw, Cather & Co. as Chief Highway Engineer. In 1963, he moved to Canada as Vice President and Chief Highway Engineer of DeLeuw, Cather of Canada. In 1969, Jack opened his own firm, Jack E. Leisch & Associates where he directed projects in highway planning, design and construction for a multinational client base. Jack’s reputation in the field of design took him to many corners of the world, including Australia, England, Greece, Israel and South Africa.
One of Jack’s most significant contributions to highway design was his belief that the design of a roadway must be viewed from the standpoint of the motorist—the real user of the facility. Drawing on his background and considerable abilities in art and graphics, he demonstrated the use of a number of tools such as sketchboards and model-scopes that allow the designer to get the driver’s perspective of the proposed design. This “humanizing” of the design process has led to a greater understanding of the interactions and interdependencies of the elements of the driver, the vehicle and the roadway.