SMDI Names Recipient of 2014 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture

WASHINGTON, DC, August 8, 2014 – The Steel Bridge Task Force of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI), a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), and the AASHTO (American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials) Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design have named Hussam Mahmoud, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Structural Laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, as the recipient of the 2014 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture. The program was instituted in 2005 in memory of Robert J. Dexter, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, who was an internationally recognized expert on steel fracture and fatigue problems in bridges.

The Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture program provides an opportunity for an individual early in his/her career in structural engineering to present a lecture on his/her steel bridge activities to the SMDI Steel Bridge Task Force and to participate in its semi-annual three-day meeting. The recipient becomes an invited guest of the Steel Bridge Task Force, which is comprised of the United States’ leading steel bridge experts. The award was presented at the SMDI Steel Bridge Task Force meeting in Denver, Colorado on August 7, 2014 by Alexander D. Wilson, Chairman of SMDI’s Steel Bridge Task Force and Manager of Customer Technical Services for ArcelorMittal USA; and Gregory R. Perfetti, Chairman of the AASHTO T-14 Steel Bridge Structures Committee and State Bridge Design Engineer, Structure Design Unit, North Carolina Department of Transportation.   

Dr. Mahmoud’s presentation was titled “A Probabilistic Approach for Fitness-for-Purpose Assessment of Welded Details.” In bridges, fatigue cracks that typically originate from discontinuities or defects can affect the safety of the structural system. However, not all discontinuities are detrimental to the bridge structure, and it can be costly to repair them. Dr. Mahmoud’s presentation provided examples of defects that are deemed acceptable when assessed using fracture mechanics and a method for statistically determining when a crack could become unsafe.

“With America’s aging infrastructure, there is increased demand on federal, state and local transportation officials to repair or replace the nation’s bridges—but the demand is much greater than the funding available to get the job done,” said Alex Wilson. “Dr. Mahmoud’s research provides a reliable method for determining if a defect will affect the safety of a bridge structure and if it will, the research provides a method of calculating when that situation could occur. In this way, the limited funding available to transportation departments can be applied where it is most needed, saving countless hours of assessment for bridge engineers and owners and thousands of dollars for taxpayers. We are pleased to present this award to Dr. Mahmoud, who worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Robert Dexter and received the Masters of Science degree under his supervision while working on ‘Fatigue Crack Propagation in Welded Stiffened Center Crack Tension Panels’ for the U.S. Coast Guard Ship Structure Committee.”

Dr. Mahmoud earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Prior to his position at Colorado State University, he was manager of the NEES Earthquake Laboratory at UIUC, where he oversaw and conducted large-scale testing of structures under earthquake loads. Previously, he was employed as a research scientist at the ATLSS Center at Lehigh University, where he assisted, managed and led projects pertaining to fatigue and fracture assessment of steel bridges through structural health monitoring. Dr. Mahmoud is a technical reviewer for various journals and serves on many technical committees, including the TRB Committee on Fabrication and Inspection of Metal Structures (AFH70), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Committee on Steel Bridges, and the ASCE Committee on Fatigue and Fracture. Dr. Mahmoud is the ASCE academic advisor at Colorado State University. He is currently serving as a summer faculty member at the Wright-Patterson Laboratory at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Fairborn, Ohio, where he is working on the fatigue and fracture assessment of aircraft wings.   

Honorees of the Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture are typically selected on an annual basis and chosen based on recommendations from the members of the Steel Bridge Task Force. Previous recipients include:
  • Caroline R. Bennett, Ph.D., P.E., associate professor in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Kansas in Lawrence (2013),
  • Hassan H. Abbas, Ph.D., assistant professor of structural engineering at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University (2012),
  • Justin Ocel, Ph.D., P.E., research structural engineer for the Federal Highway Administration (2010), 
  • Emmett A. Sumner III, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering and technical director of the Constructed Facilities Laboratory at North Carolina State University in Raleigh (2009),
  • Jennifer Righman McConnell, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware (2007),
  • Reagan Herman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental  Engineering at the University of Houston (2006), and 
  • Robert J. Connor, assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue University (2005). 
SMDI’s Steel Bridge Task Force was formed more than 40 years ago to coordinate research that establishes safe, cost-effective steel bridges and to implement these developments into steel bridge design codes, specifically the AASHTO design codes. Its members include steel producers, steel fabricators, the AASHTO Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design, university faculty, consultants and representatives from the Federal Highway Administration and National Steel Bridge Alliance. 

AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 22 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and approximately 125 associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI's member companies represent approximately over three-quarters of both U.S. and North American steel capacity. For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s website at www.steel.org.

The Steel Market Development Institute grows and maintains the use of steel through strategies that promote cost-effective solutions in the automotive, construction and container markets, as well as for new-growth opportunities in non-traditional steel markets.  SMDI’s Steel Bridge program is conducted under the Construction Market Council, whose investor companies include AK Steel Corporation; ArcelorMittal Dofasco; ArcelorMittal USA LLC; EVRAZ North America; Nucor Corporation; Severstal North America; SSAB Americas; and United States Steel Corporation. For more information, visit www.smdisteel.org.

Image Description - Hussam Mahmoud, Ph.D. (center) proudly accepts a plaque commemorating his selection as the 2014 Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture recipient from Alexander D. Wilson (left), Chairman of SMDI’s Steel Bridge Task Force and Manager of Customer Technical Services for ArcelorMittal USA; and Dennis R. Mertz, professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Delaware (right).   Photo by SMDI

Contact:
Debbie Bennett
Manager, SMDI and Construction Communications
Steel Market Development Institute
Tel: 202.452.7179

Lisa Harrison
Senior Vice President, Communications
American Iron and Steel Institute
Tel: 202.452.7115