Welding Pioneer is Remembered

The life of Omer W. Blodgett is honored by Lincoln Electric for his impact and leadership in the industry.

Welding industry pioneer and Employee of the Century at The Lincoln Electric Company (Cleveland, OH), Omer W. Blodgett passed away on January 11. He was 99 years old. A world-renowned authority on the design of welded connections, Blodgett spent 60 years working at Lincoln Electric, retiring as a senior design consultant. During his tenure, he authored numerous manuals and textbooks for the arc welding industry and his seminars on welding were known throughout the welding industry.

“We are indebted to Omer, who was a mentor to many,” said Christopher L. Mapes, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “He left a lasting legacy in our industry and will be fondly remembered with great honor. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Blodgett became involved in welding when he struck his first arc at the age of ten using his father’s Lincoln Stable-Arc welding machine in Minnesota. Through his high school years, he worked as a welder at his father’s company and became certified as a welder for high-pressure applications in 1938. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and then became a welding superintendent at the Globe Shipbuilding Company. Under demanding war-time production conditions, he learned firsthand how to solve welding-related problems, such as distortion and cracking, and met James F. (“JF”) Lincoln, with whom he would share a lifetime friendship.

After World War II, Blodgett joined Lincoln Electric at JF’s urging, first serving as a technical representative and later as a design consultant – working in both the mechanical and structural fields. In this role, he became the primary presenter of the Lincoln Electric Welding Design Seminars, which continue today and are named in his honor. Additionally, Blodgett frequently spoke on welding design at the American Welding Society (AWS; Miami, FL) sectional and national meetings and conducted welding design seminars all over the world.

During his career, he authored numerous technical articles and handbooks on design, including Design of Weldments and Design of Welded Structures. He was a licensed professional engineer in the State of Ohio, a fellow of the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers), ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and the AWS. Other affiliations include Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi. Blodgett also was a long-time member and contributor to a number of professional organizations, including the AWS D1 Structural Welding Committee, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Committee on Specifications, and the Welding Research Council (WRC) Task Group on Beam-to-Column Connections.

AWS recognized his contributions in 1962, 1973, 1980 and 1983, when he was awarded the A. F. Davis Silver Medal for his work in structural design. From the AISC, he received the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award in 1983, the Engineering Luminary Award in 1997 and AISC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. In 1995, LeTourneau University awarded Blodgett an honorary Doctor of Science Degree, in addition to naming the Welding Engineering chair in his honor. In 1999, he was named by Engineering News-Record as one of the construction industry’s top 125 innovators over the past 125 years, a distinction also given to John Roebling, Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright and R.G. LeTourneau.