Just as 2005 drew to a close, so too did the life journey of Prof. Miloš Marinček, D.Sc. come to an end (6 Dec. 1918 – 11 Dec. 2005). Prof. Marinček’s highly dynamic life began in Trieste. After finishing high school in Celje, he enrolled in the Technical Faculty of the University in Ljubljana, graduating from civil engineering in 1942. Prof. Marinček dedicated himself to science after completing a doctoral degree at the Technical University in Vienna in 1945. The course for his scientific work and teaching was clearly set as early as 1946, when he was elected Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering of the then Technical College (TVŠ) in Ljubljana for steel constructions, welding and plane constructions.
The founder of the IMK Institute
Prof. Miloš Marinček, D.Sc.
Although the situation following World War II was extremely difficult, this was the right time for this kind of man. It was a period of recovery and development, which held out opportunity to people of vision, to people who wanted to build a new world. And it was a chance for diligent people with good organisational skills that knew how to optimise and work with rather limited human and material resources. It was a time when people could lead by setting a good personal example modelled on diligence, knowledge and personal discipline. Prof. Marinček was the right kind of man to navigate those challenging times. Faced with a shortage of professional staff, he recognized the need for closer collaboration between the Faculty and the industrial sector. In 1948, he founded the Institute of Steel Constructions, which was initially part of the Technical College (TVŠ). In 1955, it was renamed the Institute of Metal Constructions (IMK) and moved to the renovated facilities that serve as the Institute’s location today.
Prof. Marinček was the founder and first director of the IMK Institute. Archive documents from the time testify to the exemplary management and transparent operation of IMK, which was seen as a liaison between the University and the commercial sector. IMK was primarily engaged in applied research and in providing professional services for business and industry. In addition, IMK was involved in the pedagogical life of the University, providing students with professional training and research work. In the beginning, IMK was the only institute in the former Yugoslavia that comprehensively covered the field of steel constructions: scientific research work and teaching, design, consultancy and supervision throughout the entire process of manufacture and assembly, evaluating the compliance of basic and related materials and applying destructive and non-destructive testing methods, as well as testing the performance of various constructions.
Prof. Marinček tied the operation and development of IMK to the actual needs of business and the larger economy. The dedication to resolve actual problems arising in the construction of large investment objects, notably in the field of energy engineering, gave IMK the opportunity to take part in the largest projects of the time, across the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia. Based on the requirements of different projects, Prof. Marinček and his associates introduced new, modern methods of destructive and non-destructive testing of materials and constructions. Within a relatively short period of time, he managed to fit out the Institute with state-of-the-art equipment, which enabled high-level professional and research work.
Alongside his other notable achievements, IMK certainly constitutes the life-work of Prof. Marinček. Unfortunately, his greatest pain and disappointment is also associated with IMK. He built and led IMK with particular enthusiasm and vigour, expecting his associates to share the same goals and vision. However, the further away the goals and the more difficult the terrain, the more likely that people will split – even though they began sincerely, in good faith, on the same journey. At the beginning of the 1960s, Prof. Marinček parted with his colleagues at IMK due to disagreements over the further direction and development of the Institute, instead concentrating exclusively on his scientific work and teaching in his capacity as Full Professor and Chair for Steel Constructions at the Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University in Ljubljana, where he served until his retirement in 1989. Under his mentoring and guidance, many new experts in the field of steel constructions, bachelors of engineering, masters and doctors of science were trained. His work was later recognised by the University in Ljubljana, which awarded him the title of distinguished professor.
Prof. Marinček remained active in science profession right up until the end of his life. He received several awards of recognition for his research and professional work, including the award of the Boris Kidrič Fund twice, in 1963 and 1975. The second such award was for a structure that is well known to the general Slovenian public – the retracting roof over the Križanke Summer Theatre in Ljubljana. Prof. Marinček was a wise and worldly person, highly appreciated in international professional circles and a member of numerous international associations. He was a visiting professor at the universities of Lehigh, Cornell, Illinois, and the California Institute of Technology, as well as at the Technical University in Graz and the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Sarajevo. He passed his international connections on to his associates and students without any reservations whatsoever. He was widely recognised for his infinite devotion to science and the profession, for his openness to new findings and developments, and for his selfless commitment to transferring and spreading knowledge to and among his many associates, students, and the expert public.
(This obituary was published in the Science section of the DELO daily newspaper on 19 Jan. 2006)