CCEE Hall of Fame

Nathaniel Fox

International recognition in geotechnical engineering leadership and innovation, and in the creation of the Geopier system

Inducted 2021

Nathaniel Fox’s journey at Iowa State began after receiving his bachelor’s at United States Military Academy, West Point; he chose the Army-approved master’s program of civil engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering at Iowa State because he wanted to invent something someday—and he did.

Fox’s master’s thesis was on a new soil test, and with some revisions and redesigns, it is now manufactured in Iowa and has gained international recognition and acceptance. After his master’s, the Army approved a Ph.D. in civil engineering, and he continued his soil testing. After graduation, Fox volunteered for active duty in Vietnam.

After his active duty, he received a Bronze Star for Valor and a Military Merit Medal from the South Vietnamese Army. He returned home and received requests from the Vietnamese government to teach them how to build “American Roads.” Their request was due to the roads built by the United States military lasting for a long time. Fox agreed and brought the chief geotechnical engineer and Vietnamese graduate students to Iowa State to learn about road construction.

Fox resigned from the Army and started Soil Systems Incorporated. Five years later, his company was listed in Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Engineering Firms. In addition, he was named Engineer of the Year in private practice in Georgia in 1979 and has won many other prestigious awards.

One of his most recognized inventions is the ground-improvement system, Geopier, and he founded the Geopier Foundation Company. Geopier is used to support windmills, buildings and earth embankments on soft soil.