Joseph (occasionally also Josef) Melan studied bridge construction in Vienna. He is considered a pioneer in bridge construction, as he succeeded in simplifying bridge structures and also making them more stable by means of the "System Melan". This involves using an inflexible steel insert in the concrete of the bridge deck. Melan's theories were translated into English and many bridges in the USA were built according to this system.
Melan taught at the German speaking universities German Technical University in Brno and the German Technical University in Prague, both in Czechia.