Vern Mesler is a retired steel fabricator with thirty-four years’ experience working as a welder, steel fitter, structural steel foreman and materials manager at Douglas Steel Fabrication in Lansing. During eighteen years as foreman, he was involved in the fabrication of many of the state’s highway bridges and steel trusses for buildings such as the Breslin Center. In addition, he was responsible for the direction of welding operations for these and other structures.
Vern has over forty years’ experience working as an adjunct welding instructor at Lansing Community College. He created two welding courses for the two-year welding program and has taught basic and advanced welding, print reading for welders, and creative welding courses for artists. As a faculty member associated with the Business and Community Institute, Vern has provided customized training for industry, including industrial rigging and hot riveting. He has also served as coordinator for a series of annual Iron and Steel Preservation Conferences held at West Campus for the repair, rehabilitation, and restoration of metals, drawing a national audience of participants and presenters.
Vern worked for ten years to restore historic metal truss bridges for the Calhoun County Historic Bridge Park. For this work in the restoration of some of Michigan’s historic bridges, he developed restoration procedures for the repair of the original structural members, attempting to save as much of the original material as possible. An outgrowth of this work is the Iron & Steel Preservation Newsletter that Vern sends out to a wide readership, writing and publishing content of interest to historic preservationists and the general public.
Among the awards that Vern has received for his restoration work is the 2016 American Institute of Steel Construction Educator Special Achievement Award, an award that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated notable achievements in structural steel design, construction, research or education. It honors those who have made a positive and substantial impact on the structural steel design and construction industry.
More recently, Vern was the recipient of the 2021 General Tools Award from The Society for Industrial Archeology. This award recognizes individuals who have given sustained, distinguished service to the cause of industrial archeology.