Jack W. MacKay
The Great Pioneer
Inducted in 2011
Celebrating his 101st birthday last month, Jack W. MacKay continues the lifelong enthusiasm and dedication to the profession that drives him to remain a practicing engineer. From his inventions to his leadership to his instruction, he is definitely a pioneer of cast iron and steel pipe, and the field would not be where it is today without his efforts.
A native of Asheville, N.C., MacKay earned two bachelor’s degrees from The University of Alabama’s College of Engineering: aerospace engineering in 1935 and civil engineering in 1936. In 1936, he accepted a position with American Cast Iron Pipe Co. in Birmingham, Ala., where he had a rewarding career of 39 years. At the outset of World War II, he was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Engineer Reserves, but he was released from active duty as being essential to industry. He designed two 30-inch diameter cupolas and two 42-inch diameter cupolas for the production of artillery shell molds and grenades. He spent the war years producing steel castings for tractors, airplanes and ships for American companies.
After the war, MacKay played a leading role in the development and expansion of ACIPCO’s steel-casting facilities, the acquisition of the steel-pipe plant, and the company’s entry into the ductile-iron-pipe field. He sold the first orders of ductile iron water and gas pipe and led the way in customer acceptance of this new product, which now constitutes the major product line of the company. He invented, patented and named the American Fastite joint, which became the company standard joint for pipe and fittings in the water and wastewater industries. When he retired in 1975, he was vice president of sales, secretary and a member of the board of directors and the board of management. ACIPCO honored him at his retirement for his “untiring efforts to promote the company”; his “unique qualities in sales and engineering in developing and patenting the Fastite joint, which proved to be so successful to the company”; and his “constant efforts to bring the company into broader product lines, such as ductile iron pipe, steel pipe, valves and hydrants.”
MacKay is a published author on steel, cast iron and ductile pipe. In 1956, he received the American Water Works Association National Distribution Award. He served as president and board member of the Alloy Casting Institute and as chairman of the Cast Iron Pipe Research Association’s public relations and advertising committees. MacKay has taught vocational courses in the Birmingham, Bessemer and Tuscaloosa areas of Alabama. He was proclaimed a UA Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 1988.
After retiring from ACIPCO, MacKay served as vice president of NTW Tire Co. until 1982. He has worked as an engineering consultant for Caldwell-MacKay, his son’s company, since 1981. MacKay remains a licensed professional engineer in the state of Alabama. Jack and his wife of 72 years, Gweneth, live in Birmingham. They have three children.