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Scott Beckwith '64 February 14, 2024 1:11 PM updated: February 14, 2024 1:34 PM

Scott Williams Beckwith 

February 1, 1942 - February 7, 2024 

Dr. Scott Williams Beckwith, age 82, of Taylorsville, UT, passed away peacefully at home on February 7th after a long battle with heart failure and diabetes.

Dad was born February 1, 1942 in New York to John Williams Beckwith and Anne Marie Pitcairn. The couple separated shortly after his birth, and Dad stayed with his Beckwith grandparents while John served in Wichita, KS before shipping out to Italy during World War II. Upon his return, John married Alba Marie Coffrini, who raised Dad and was his mother in every possible way until her death in 1983. He was an only child, growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. As he got older, Dad wanted to learn about his birth mother (Marie) and he spent years looking for her. His wife Shauna later tracked down Marie’s family and 2 half-sisters in Florida, plus his 96-year-old grandmother although Marie had passed away by that time (cancer).

Dad always wanted to be an engineer. He got his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University (Gig ‘em Aggies!) where he was the captain of the swim team and the water polo team, lettering all four years in both sports. He got married after his graduation, then moved his family to California where he got his Master’s degree in Aeronautics (Materials) at the California Institute of Technology. While in California, he served as a Captain in the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base, working in the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (AFRPL). Another achievement while working at AFRPL – he was one of the very few that performed “characterization testing” of the graphite fibers. Later, larger production and application led to “carbon fiber” terminology for the United Kingdom by Monsanto / Courtaulds. One major accomplishment was the resolution of a large presence of grain cracking in 1st stage Minuteman motors, followed by presenting results to Dr. Edward Teller (father of the Hydrogen Atomic Bomb). There began his love of composites, propellants, and various rocket motor materials.

Dad went back to Texas A&M where he got a PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering (Mechanics, Materials, Structures). Upon graduation, his choices for employment were in Dayton, Ohio or Salt Lake City, Utah. He chose Utah, working for Hercules Incorporated (now divided between Hexcel at different locations of Northrup) at the Bacchus plant in Magna and further north. Dad also became a member of Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE), holding that membership for just a few months shy of 50 years; and later became an employee of the organization, serving in many roles including Global Technical Director and SAMPE Journal Editor-in-Chief. The dual role with SAMPE “part-time”, and his personal consulting company, Beckwith Technology Group (BTG) Composites Inc., allowed him to provide emerging technology overview lectures in various fields of materials & manufacturing. Included were Resin Infusion Technologies (lots there), fiber placement and filament winding, nondestructive testing (NDT), additive manufacturing, wind energy, tooling, etc. This included any 2- to 3-day workshops with more than 105 total International attendees. Lecturing at academic institutions was even more exciting.

Dad loved his work – it gave him purpose and kept his mind busy. He had more than 500 publications, including peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations. He served as an expert witness in more than 80 cases, with many involving design / installation of composites, new blades, trade secrets, and process / design technology / product defect-induced failures, etc. plus wind tunnel blade composites design and structure, ranging from subsonic to transonic to hypersonic range air loads and increased temperatures to 450 degrees Fahrenheit on new composite blade structures. He was recognized throughout the industry with multiple awards, including the SME Jud Hall Composites Manufacturing (1996), SACMA-SAMPE Materials Leadership Award (1999), Fellow Award (2003), SAMPE Distinguished Service Award -Inaugural (2016), SAMPE Mort Kushner Lifetime Achievement Award (2023), and was the Utah Council Nominee for Engineer of the Year 2016 Award by the SAMPE Utah Chapter (February 2017). He held appointments from the United States Presidents (both Bushes and Clinton for period of 12 years) to the Department of Commerce committees for Expert negotiations on clarifying materials (fibers, resins, etc.) for or against export under US Export Administration Regulations (EAR) system, as well as supporting SAMPE in assessing International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) technical papers. He taught numerous courses at colleges and universities. He worked on innovative projects across many industries, including space exploration, oil & gas, sports & recreation, and aircraft structures. His worked crossed many areas, including the Apollo mission; treadmill platforms; bike forks / frames; arrows; storage tanks; oil field sucker rods; oil & gas piping / joints / tanks; wind tunnels; filament winding equipment; epoxy; solid rocket motor fuel; airplane wings / fuselage / structure; rotating amusement park simulator rides; managing the CalTrans Program of wrapping columns with carbon and/or glass fabrics to stiffen them from potential earthquakes such as the big Northridge, CA one; and even (yes) containers for assisted reproduction procedures in livestock, to name just a few. If it had carbon fiber in it, Dad understood it (or could figure it out)!

Dad was an engineer to his core, even outside of work. He found hours of joy in rerouting a river (or a canal) in endless pursuit of the most aesthetic flow or the best wading pool. He built a removable neighborhood volleyball court on his street in West Valley, which could be put up and taken down in a few minutes without notice by city authorities. He created the most bird-proof tomato enclosure in the neighborhood, and perhaps the world, for his 20+ tomato plants each year. He could combine the most pitiful Christmas tree, extra boughs, glue, and wire (and hours of dedicated work) to create the most durable, steady, beautiful holiday tree to grace anyone’s living room. During medical visits, he was known to look over the provider’s shoulder at the screen, calculate the numbers, then ask what 25%, 40%, etc meant, often to the provider’s chagrin. He believed in redundancy as a preventive measure – why have 2 drill bit sets, when someday you might need 4, or even 25!

Dad was curious about the world and the people in it. Over the course of his life, he traveled to more than 30 countries (we lost track!). He met and dined with world leaders and engineering luminaries, as fascinated by them as they were with him. He met Dr. Edward Teller in the late 1960s while serving as project engineer on a solid rocket motor fuel project, although Dad says he didn’t get a warm fuzzy from the man. He served 6 years on Texas A&M University’s Materials Science & Engineering Industrial Advisory Board during its rapid expansion period (2017-2023).

Dad was hard to miss. He was a big guy with a booming voice and a playful sense of humor. He stood 5 foot 14 inches tall as he would say, and weighed in at 220+ in his prime. When swimming or water skiing, his kids referred to him as “Orca” due to his size and his skill at the breast stroke. Out of the water, his nicknames were “Moose” or “Dr. Moose.” He would joke that his shirt size was “medium gorilla.” He was well known to the staff at Mediterranean Market & Deli, Banbury Cross, David’s Kitchen, and the Delta terminal Starbucks, who he loved for their excellent service and mad culinary skills.

Dad also loved his community, sharing the results of his vegetable garden with his neighbors far and wide. He served on the planning committee for Taylorsville Days. He made many friends along the canal road over the years. He ate lots of spaghetti and Colosimo's sausage each fall supporting the “Magna spaghetti dinner.”

Dad is survived by his loving wife Shauna, four children, four grandpuppers, and six close cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, mother, and stepmother. The family will hold a service at a later date to celebrate Dad’s life. In the meantime, find something in your house, broken or not, take it apart and spend a few hours making it better! Or, enjoy your favorite snack from Banbury Cross or Mediterranean Market & Deli!

The Moose is loose! “GIG EM AGGIES!” 


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