By Peter Murphy
Published May 2, 2017
Andrew S. Whittaker, a professor in UB’s Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Department, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was honored with the 2017 Walter P. Moore, Jr. Award from the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Whittaker is the director of UB’s MCEER, Institute of Bridge Engineering (IBE) and Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL). He is a registered civil and structural engineer in California, and is one of the few academics to hold a structural engineering license in the United States. Whittaker’s contributions across a wide range of subject areas has set him apart from his peers.
“Andrew is a leading expert in the development of structural design practice guidelines. This award recognizes Andrew’s achievements and also honors our department and the MCEER and IBE programs,” said Joseph Atkinson, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.
For seven years, Whittaker served as president of the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE). He also served as a member of the Boards of Directors for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and the World Seismic Safety Initiative, both from 2008 - 2010. From 2010 to 2011, Whittaker served on a National Research Council (NRC) committee charged with developing a 20-year plan for earthquake engineering research in the United States. As the only academic structural/geotechnical engineer on the NRC committee, Whittaker helped develop and write a research agenda for earthquake engineering research in the United States, aimed at developing a nation of earthquake-resilient communities. In 2014, Whittaker represented this committee to provide testimony to Congress in support of the reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.
“Like the award’s namesake, Dr. Whittaker has worked as a practicing engineer engaged in the design of challenging projects, a researcher performing important and relevant research, an educator, and most important to this award, an active volunteer working to improve the nation’s building codes, standards and design practices,” said Ronald Hamburger, Senior Principal, Simpson, Gumpertz and Heger, Inc, and a member of the US National Academy of Engineering.
One of Whittaker’s most significant contributions is his work on seismic protective systems. Since the late 1980s, Whittaker has fundamentally influenced the implementation of seismic isolation and supplemental damping systems in buildings, bridges and mission critical infrastructure, including nuclear power plants and other energy facilities. He was a member of the team that developed the first generation of tools for performance based earthquake engineering in the 1990s, and led the structural engineering team that developed the second generation of tools for FEMA from 2000 to 2013. With the help of his PhD students, Yin-Nan Huang, Manish Kumar and Manish Kumar (two students with the same name), Whittaker developed the first risk-based procedures for implementing seismic isolation, consistent with risk-informed requirements of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).
The Walter P. Moore Jr. Award is presented yearly by the Structural Engineering Institute of the ASCE to an engineer who has demonstrated technical expertise in the development of structural codes and standards. ASCE established the award in 1998 as a dedication to Walter P. Moore Jr. to recognize his commitment to and technical expertise in the development of structural codes and standards.
Whittaker joined UB in 2001, and received his PhD in structural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987. He received the award at the Structures Congress 2017, held April 6-8, 2017, in Denver, Colorado.
About the Structural Engineering Institute of the ASCE
The Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the ASCE was established in 1996 with the purpose of advancing the careers of its members, stimulating technological advancement and improving professional practice.
The ASCE represents over 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. The Society was founded in 1852 and is the oldest engineering society in the United States. The Society advances civil engineering technical specialties through nine dynamic institutes and leads with its many professional and public focused programs.
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