Whittaker receives ASCE Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Energy Award

Professor Andrew Whittaker, Director of UB's MCEER and Insititute of Bridge Engineering receives the Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Energy Award for his major contributions to the energy sector

By Peter Murphy

Published June 26, 2017

“Andrew has made significant contributions to the energy field. Through MCEER and his colleagues, Andrew has been able to advance the application of seismic isolation technology to nuclear power plants and has bridged the fields of civil and nuclear engineering technologies.”
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Andrew S. Whittaker, a professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, received his second award from the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) of 2017.

The Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Energy Award was established in 1992 in honor of the contributions Bechtel made to engineering and his advancements in the design and construction of energy projects throughout the world.

Whittaker received the award for his “significant contributions to the energy sector through promoting the safe design and operation of nuclear power plants and DOE facilities,” according to the award notification.

Whittaker’s research and leadership has helped develop engineering standards for a number of national committees, including ASCE 4, ASCE 7, ASCE 43, ASCE 59 and ACI 349. He chairs the ASCE Nuclear Standards Committee. He, colleague Michael Constantinou, and former graduate students have made significant advancements in seismic isolation of nuclear reactors, power plants and facilities.

 “Andrew has made significant contributions to the energy field,” said Joseph Atkinson, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, “through MCEER and his colleagues, Andrew has been able to advance the application of seismic isolation technology to nuclear power plants and has bridged the fields of civil and nuclear engineering technologies.”

From 1960 to 1989, Bechtel, Jr. was president of the Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest global engineering, construction and project management companies in the world. During his tenure as president, the company completed several large energy projects, including the first commercial facility in the world to convert natural gas to gasoline, the Palo Verde power plant in Arizona, the cleanup and restoration of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and many others.

This is second ASCE award Whittaker received this year. In April, he received the Walter P. Moore Jr. Award.

Whittaker joined UB in 2001, and serves as director of MCEER, the Institute of Bridge Engineering, and the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL). His research interests are broad and include earthquake and blast engineering of buildings, long-span bridges and nuclear structures. The National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Highway Administration, and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission fund his research. He consults to federal agencies, regulators, consultancies, contractors, and utilities in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.

Whittaker received his PhD in structural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988.