After graduating from the Department of Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1949 Shapiro worked with several engineering and construction companies before founding his own company in 1965, SOHA Engineers.
Throughout his career, thanks to his personal integrity and professional skills, Shapiro helped bridge the gap between professional assessments of seismic safety and public programs. As a result of his leadership in California and at the national level, he has helped to create a better understanding of earthquake impacts and the steps that can be taken to enhance life safety.
He currently chairs the Project Advisory Committee for the San Francisco Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety and since 1966 he has served as a Commissioner on the California Seismic Safety Commission, which he chaired in 2000. He has also served as president of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California in 1969 and he has chaired the Building Codes, Program, and Legislative Committees.
During the past 12 years Shapiro has acted as project director for a federally sponsored program to develop nationally applicable Guidelines for the Seismic Rehabilitation of Buildings. This document, known to the profession as FEMA 273, was a massive undertaking. The process involved input and debate by hundreds of engineers and academicians throughout the United States and will serve as the basis for seismic rehabilitation codes for years to come.
Shapiro has given scores of technical presentations at seminars, conferences and universities around the world and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his years of service to the public and the profession, including the Engineering Research Institute's George W. Housner Medal, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Outstanding Public Service Award and the 1999 Building Seismic Safety Council Honor Award.