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A tribute

'Exceptional' engineer Dr. Jim Sharpe remembered for scholarship, optimism and heart

Campus and Community

Dr. James Jack (Jim or JJ) Sharp, professor emeritus, passed away peacefully and with grace in his beloved Scotland on June 6, 2022, in the presence of his eldest son, Glenn.

Dr. JJ Sharp smiles at the camera with his arms folded. Lights are visible behind him.
Dr. James (JJ) Sharp
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Sharp was a gentleman, scholar, musician and exceptional engineer. Many former students and colleagues will remember him for his mentorship, collegiality, excellent teaching, supervision and administrative skills.

He provided significant service to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and to Memorial University during his tenure from 1970-2001. He was the first chair of civil engineering at Memorial from 1972–76 and was chair again from 1983–1991.

He became associate dean for graduate studies and research in the faculty from 1992–98. In total, Dr. Sharp had administrative duties for 19 of the 31 years he spent at Memorial University.

He had significant input into the development of programs in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and was involved and proud of moving the engineering program into a blended work-term environment.

Significant scholarship

Dr. Sharp’s scholarly activity was both broad and fascinating, covering a range of engineering specialities, history and cooking. Two of his four engineering books have been translated into other languages.

He also published two history books, the Flower of Scotland, on the Scottish monarchy, and Discovery in the North Atlantic. Both books received excellent reviews by professional historians.

His primary research area related to environmental hydraulics and his research expertise put him in demand as a lecturer in Canada and in other parts of the world. He gave lecture tours in China at the invitation of the Chinese government and acted as a consultant to engineering consulting companies both in Newfoundland and Labrador, and elsewhere in Canada.

The Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) awarded Dr. Sharp the Camille Dagenais award in 1981 for outstanding contributions to the field of hydrotechnical engineering in Canada. The American Society of Civil Engineers recognized him for the best technical note of 1992 and the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2001 for his paper, The Sarawak River Barrage – Hydrotechnical and Geotechnical Aspects. The National Environmental Protection Bureau of China also recognized Dr. Sharp with a Scientific Progress Award.

His professional work has been recognized with awards such as the James A. Vance award, for dedicated service that has furthered the advancement of CSCE, and by an Award of Merit from the Newfoundland Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists. This is the association’s highest honour and is given in recognition of an individual making an outstanding contribution to the engineering profession and to the community.

Lasting impact

Dr. Sharp was also an active individual with many other interests and lived a very full and happy life, and despite life’s ups and downs, always chose to see the glass half full.

Outside of work his hobbies were man: travel, painting, Scottish country dancing, writing, history, fishing, jewelry-making, playing the bagpipes and other instruments.

His most lasting impact was his ability to spread kindness and love to his family, friends and to all he met.

He always had a sparkle in his eye, was quick to help others and will be very sorely missed.

Contributed by Glenn Sharp and Dr. Leonard Lye, professor emeritus at Memorial and Dr. JJ Sharp’s longtime colleague and personal friend.

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