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09.2011 - Milestone Weidlinger Publication, Infrastructure Health in Civil Engineering, Promises to Revolutionize Infrastructure Decision Making

Weidlinger Principal Mohammed M. Ettouney coauthors treatise on emerging discipline that builds on the assumption of inevitable and continuous aging of structures.

New York, NY – September 26, 2011 – Dr. Mohammed M. Ettouney, a principal of Weidlinger Associates, Inc., and recent president of the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), has coauthored a highly detailed technical treatise, Infrastructure Health in Civil Engineering (Two-Volume Set), with Dr. Sreenivas Alampalli of the New York State Department of Transportation.

The two-volume set, published by CRC Press, presents an overview of and defines the agenda for infrastructure health in civil engineering (IHCE), a new engineering discipline for the 21st century. It calls for a holistic approach to infrastructure design, inspection, repair, maintenance, and decision making, and argues for ensuring that structures do not degrade, fail, or require expensive retrofits due to lack of attention at the beginning of or throughout their lifespans. Dr. Ettouney views structures in much the same way as a doctor practicing preventive medicine views the human body, contending that it is wiser and more cost-effective to forestall illness than to treat it after it takes root.

As infrastructure ages, demand escalates, disasters proliferate, and budgets decrease, there is a pressing need for what this book offers: a decision-making tool that aids owners in evaluating the safety of their structures and enables them to invest more wisely in their upkeep. The authors refer to this paradigm shift to effective assessment, modeling, and improvement of health throughout a structure’s life cycle as the “95% solution.” They contrast it to the current “5% solution” of waiting for disaster to strike, which guarantees comparatively inefficient and costly rehabilitation or replacement. Although the aging of structures is difficult to observe and quantify, the alternative is potential loss of life from sudden and catastrophic failure.

“Adding the time dimension will require a new mindset,” said Ray Daddazio, Weidlinger President and CEO. “I am very proud that a Weidlinger principal is at the forefront of the movement to change the way we safeguard our structures. This blueprint for appropriate action has the potential to save lives and money and to empower stakeholders, including the voting public, in choosing which components of our infrastructure to fix first and how to pay for it.”

“I hope that this publication launches a dialogue among owners, practicing engineers, and academicians, who until now have been working independently in this emerging field,” said Dr. Ettouney. “Our goal is to change structural engineering practice and infrastructure asset management, that is, to have engineers question routine structural behavior assumptions that do not account for aging and day-to-day change, while utilizing advanced asset management processes to produce results. In centralizing all known and potential information about this new field, we are mounting a massive attack on business as usual, because the efficiency of monitoring structural health throughout the life cycle is simply more sustainable and economical. I am convinced that you cannot have a successful project any longer unless cost-benefit analysis is integrated into all the subtasks.”

Volume I, Theory and Components, presents an overview and associated theories and describes the four major components of IHCE (measurements, structural identification, damage identification, and decision making). It argues persuasively for an analogy between human and structural health, optimization of structural health monitoring projects, maximization of sensing efficiency, and integration of these concepts with decision-making processes; it applies these insights to various hazards, including scour, earthquakes, and corrosion. Volume II, Applications and Management, includes chapters on bridge management, load testing, life-cycle analysis, enhanced bridge security, and fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) bridge decks and wrapping, as well as an integrated presentation of bridge-life-cycle-analysis methods.

Dr. Mohammed Ettouney received the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Homer Gage Balcom Award (a lifetime achievement honor named for the engineer of the Empire State Building) in June 2008. He was recently designated a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is a fellow of its Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI). He is currently a member or chair of several committees of AEI, the American Society of Non-Destructive Testing (ASNT), and the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), also sponsored by ASCE. Ettouney is a licensed professional engineer and has been with Weidlinger Associates since 1984. He has a BS in civil engineering (1969) and, an MS in structural engineering (1972) from Cairo University, an ScD in structural mechanics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1976), and an MBA from Long Island University (1980).

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