Distinguished Alumni Awards

John H. Wiggins Jr.

John H. Wiggins Jr.
To John H. Wiggins for his outstanding contributions to the development of tools for forecasting losses from natural and technologic hazards, for providing criteria for insurance underwriting, and for his extraordinary service to the government and to his profession.

President and Chairman, Crisis Management Corporation, Redondo Beach, California

  • BS, 1953, Stanford University
  • MS, 1955, St. Louis University
  • PhD, 1961, Civil Engineering, Universtiy of Illinois

John Wiggins has had a remarkable career involving a range of activities. His creative research work has resulted in many innovations that have had a significant impact on the oil industry, and he is highly respected by the national and international insurance industry for his significant role as science and engineering adviser for underwriting strategies and the determination of risks for loss resulting from catastrophic hazards.

After graduation from Stanford University, Wiggins began his career with the United States Air Force. In 1957 he led a team of experts, which included Nathan Newmark of UIUC, in developing the siting criteria for ICBMs located in silos. At the Exxon Production Research Company, which he joined in 1961, he developed a patented three new oil-well drilling devices, one of which has been used extensively in controlling down-hole vibrations, thus prolonging the life of drill bits. At the consulting firm of John A. Blume & Associates, he directed the National Sonic Boom Program. Its mission was to develop tolerable overflight sonic boom criteria for regulating supersonic flights over land.

In 1966 he founded the J. H. Wiggins Company at Redondo Beach, California. He directed research that assisted government agencies, structural engineers, property insurers, and insureds in understanding the risk they face in how to insure properties against natural and technological hazards. From 1984-87 he held an appointment at Stanford University as consulting professor. In 1987 he established the Crisis Management Corporation in Redondo Beach and is presently serving as president and chairman. The firm is primarily engaged in research to develop expert systems for loss-forecasting technology.

Wiggins is responsible for introducing the "balanced risk" concept, which balances the risk of loss against the tolerated risks that are tacitly accepted. Risk analysis methodology consists of simulating, by use of occurrences. Hazard, exposure, and vulnerability are the key elements for loss-forecasting technology.

Among his major accomplishments is the first "balanced risk" ordinance, which was prepared for Long Beach, California, in 1971, for rehabilitation of structures subjected to earthquakes. His report on the technical analysis of seismic risks was responsible for the creation of the California Seismic Safety Element for cities and counties in California. His 1974 report to Congress was instrumental in providing data for the passage of the 1977 Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act.

His 1969 publication on sonic boom is the principal reference on the effects on sonic boom used by the U.S. Air Force to adjudicate sonic boom claims. After the June 1979 DC-10 crash at O'Hare Airport, the FAA engaged the J. H. Wiggins Company to undertake a risk/benefit analysis of DC-10 aircraft operations. The evaluation was a significant factor to leading the FAA cancellation of the grounding of the DC-10 fleet.

Wiggins is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Society of Professional Geologists. In 1994 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UIUC's Department of Engineering.

Current as of 1998.