Engineer and professor
Edgar António de Mesquita Cardoso was born in Porto on 11th May 1913, on the first floor of no. 245 Rua Pinto Bessa, Parish of Bonfim. He was born of Francisco Vítor Cardoso (an Infantry Officer with a Course awarded by the Defence Staff, and Mine Civil Engineer) and Amélia Teixeira de Mesquita Cardoso (a landlady from Belém, in Pará, Brazil).
He married in 1941 (7th June) to Margarida Congeol; no children were born from this marriage.
Edgar Cardoso spent the first years of his childhood in Porto. However, we was still very young when he went to live with his family in the Beira Alta - as his father, an Infantry Officer, was transferred there. The family then moved to Lisbon, where Edgar attended Primary School.
When he was about 11 years old, his family returned to Porto. Some time later, his father, a Captain who was about to be promoted to the rank of Major, became a non-effective officer in order to be appointed director of Roads of JAE in Bragança and later in Vila Real. By then, during the week the seven children of the couple lived only with their mother, and spent the summer holidays in the farm, in Resende, which Edgar loved.
In 1924 he enrolled on the 1st year of secondary school, at the Liceu Alexandre Herculano. He finished his course (the 7th year in Science) in June 1931, with a grade of 15 out of 20. He then enrolled in the preparatory course of Engineering, at the Faculty of Science; after he finished his preparatory course, he enrolled in the Courses of Electrotechnical and Civil Engineering, at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto. In the last year of his degree, he was forced to choose one of the courses; influenced by his father, he thus chose the Civil Engineering course, which he accomplished in July 1937, with a grade of 17 out of 20.
When he finished his degree, he entered a traineeship in the Bridge Division of JAE, in Lisbon, from August to September. His traineeship report, which was acknowledged by the Military Engineer Silveira e Castro, president of JAE and of the Administrative Committee of the Urbanization Costa do Sol, enabled him to be approved by FEUP with a grade of 19 out of 20, and to be invited by Silveira e Castro to work in the Committee: he was responsible for calculating the concrete over chute on the highway Lisbon-National Stadium, in Cruz das Oliveiras.
EIn January 1938 he entered JAE as a 3rd grade Civil Engineer. He worked for the Bridge Direction. He maintained his cooperation with the Committee for nearly 3 years, part-time.
He was appointed 2nd grade Engineer at JAE in 1944 and 1st grade Engineer in 1951. During this stage of his life, he studied, planned and built mainly bridges; but he also dedicated himself to research work. He was the first to introduce experimental research in Civil Engineering in Portugal, in the field of Structures, and was awarded a grant by the "Instituto para a Alta Cultura".
In 1947 (August) he was appointed President of the Committee responsible for studying and reorganizing construction ceramics (the “Comissão de Estudo da Reorganização da Cerâmica de Construção”), of the Ministry for Economy, and participated in several works of the Public Works Senior Council. He was also a councillor of the Technical Regulations Implementation and Review Committee, between 1951 and 1983, and aggregate councillor of that Council from 1956 to 1965 and from 1969 to 1983. As a form of recognition of his contribution since 1951, in 1987 the Council suggested that he should be entitled to a Commendation, which was awarded by the Minister for Public Works, Engineer João de Oliveira Martins.
In parallel with his career in the public sector, he also worked for the private sector. In 1944 he opened his office (Laboratório de Ensaio e Estudo de Estruturas e Fundações Eng. Edgar Cardoso) on the 1st floor, on the right, of no. 172 Avenida Elias Garcia; he lived on the 3rd floor, on the right, of the same building. In 1958 he moved his office to Rua Andrade Corvo (7th floor, no. 29). In 1992 he made it into a company.
Edgar Cardoso has also built a brilliant academic and scientific career. He already had an extraordinary curriculum at the age of 35, as is shown by the dissertation and report presented for the application to Full Professor of the Higher Technical Institute, upon the request of the School Council. It included, among other activities, the project and monitoring of the construction of 35 bridges, repairs in 8 bridges, the structures of the new Faculties of Arts and Medicine, in Coimbra, and the Cine-Theatre Império, in Lisbon.
On 22nd December 1951 he took on his job as Full Professor of Bridges, at the Higher Technical Institute, for two years. He was definitively appointed Full Professor in 1953. On 18th November 1960, he was accepted as a member of the Academy of Sciences in Lisbon, where he replaced Professor Reynaldo dos Santos. On 12th December 1968 he became an effective member. In the academy, he presented papers on topics of his expertise, as well as on full panoramic photography and cinema.
The striking, yet relentless, Professor was forced to interrupt his teaching activities from 1974 (end of October) to 1979, accused of standing for the fascist regime. He was reinstated after 1979, and taught until he retired, in 1983, the semesteral course units of Bridges and Special Structures - which replaced the annual course unit Bridges and the semesteral course unit Dimensioning of Structures, after the reform of the plans of studies in 1970.
When he was reinstated by the Technical Institute, we was reimbursed for his due salaries, in the amount of one million escudos. He donated the money to the State, for activities of national interest. The Government used the money to found the Edgar Cardoso Foundation, which aimed to award grants to students and doctoral students of the Higher Technical Institute, in the field of Bridges and Special Structures, and to award prizes to research works or engineering projects in that field.
After his reinstatement in the Higher Technical Institute (IST), his private activities as engineer expanded considerably, both in Portugal and abroad. In 1990 his curriculum included 500 studies and projects of bridges, as well as the study and project of special structures, such as buildings, docks-bridges, airports over the sea and reinforcement of slope protection walls.
Since the beginning of his career, he published articles in journals such as Técnica do IST, the Revista da Faculdade de Engenharia, the Boletim da Ordem dos Engenheiros and the Memórias e Boletins of the Academy of Sciences in Lisbon.
Besides the works he projected abroad, his participation in some events stands out, such as: his participation in the selection panel of the works on bridges and viaducts of the Autopistas de Barcelona, em 1969, in 1969; and the invitation of the Italian Government to participate in the discussion of the road and railway crossing of the Strait of Messina, in 1974.
From the works he projected, his distinct and poetic bridges stand out. These were true sculptures, as they were once called. They were innovative, grandiose, light and aesthetically modern. They were as surprising as they exceeded deadlines and budgets. Resulting from his surprisingly inventive and manual ability, the bridges were born from models or architects' models made of several different materials, and structurally studied with devices he had invented.
This engineer's name has always evoked the bridges of Mosteirô (one of the first bridges he designed, in the middle region of the Douro), the Arrábida bridge, in Foz do Porto (which did not fall apart, as was expected by many of the experts who travelled to Porto when it was inaugurated, on 22nd June 1963) and the S. João bridge (his last bridge, which was inaugurated on St. John's day, in 1991).
Alone and disappointed for not being invited for new projects, he died on 5th July 2000, at the Pulido Valente hospital, in Lisbon. His death brought along the disappearance of one the greatest genius in the history of national and international civil engineering.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2008)