Francis Pitt Smith was an expert and pioneer in the technology of refining asphalt derived from petroleum. One of his greatest contributions was the perfecting of a method for making usable paving asphalt from Mexican oil. This was achieved in 1909 when, at the instigation of Lord Cowdray, noted British oil magnate, he had gone to Mexico to demonstrate the art of refining asphalt to Cowdray’s men.
Mr. Smith was one of the founders of the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists and it’s first President. He did perhaps more than anyone else to accomplish standardization of paving specifications. Their present degree of perfection is due primarily to his efforts.
He began his work on asphalt and paving in 1897 when he was appointed Chemist and General Superintendent of the Alcatraz Asphalt Company. With this company, he was involved in many paving projects, both in the United States and abroad. In 1907 with A.W. Dow, he formed the firm of Dow and Smith, where he remained until his death.
He was a member of many technical societies other than AAPT, among them the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Society of Municipal Engineers.
Mr. Smith graduated from the School of Mines, Columbia University, in 1888. He was born September 9, 1867 in New York City, New York.