Recognizing we want to be careful in the forum about speculating on the cause of the Surfside condo collapse aligned with the ASCE statement that came out earlier this week, a number of general questions have been circulating in my head that triggered by the facts that have come to light. As engineers how we can we better communicate the severity of problems balancing being alarmist (and possibly putting future credibility and opportunities at risk) with need to properly inform? This is compounded by oft having to communicate to clients or others that are non-engineers and do understand meaning or subtleties. For policy and regulation makers I think there's a question of how to compel action. The Surfside condo collapse has highlighted the challenge dealing with diffuse ownership. The final question is one of engineering competency within government entities. Finally, can this tragedy be used a wake up call to catalyze support for addressing this countries failing infrastructure – and systems that enable?
Dear Mitch, you are right! There is the need to know the truth, and everyone's asking what happened in that collapse. We have to be cautious in what we have to say about it until the official reports are delivered. Some people challenge us to know if we, as engineers, know to solve the puzzle. As you said, delivering the wrong message (especially in the media) could unnecessarily transfer some alarm.
What is important is not to let pass this event like another more and always protect people's lives (preparing them, enhancing our design standards, monitoring structures, etc.).Regards,AG
On the chance some commentators have not recently had the opportunity to better appreciate what Forensic Engineers do to provide reliable engineered answers to the questions connected to failures, I have attached a few papers noted below.While not specific to the unravelling, and yet unknown actual driving forces involved in the horrific collapse, they do provide factual insights into why only these properly credentialed folks may offer answers and opinions the public . . .and other civil engineers. . . can rely on.Stay Healthy!Cheers,Bill
1. Forensic Engineering: Proceedings of the Second Congress, May 21-23, 2000, San Juan, Puerto Rico by Technical Council on Forensic Engineering (Author), Kevin L. Rens (Editor), Oswald Rendon-Herrero (Editor), Paul A. Bosela (Editor) Forensics and Case Studies in Civil Engineering Education: State of the Art Norbert J. Delatte Cleveland State University, [email protected]
2. Failure Mechanisms in Building ConstructionEdited by David H. Nicastro, P.E. ASCE PressISBN (print): 978-0-7844-0283-2ISBN (PDF): 978-0-7844-7027-5
3. Identification of Reinforced Concrete Failure Modes Using Linear Elastic Finite Element Analysis
James B. Deaton ; and Lawrence F. Kahn
4. Collapsed-RC Building Failure Mechanisms with a Forensic Engineering Approach
Ali Etemadi, Ph.D.; and Can Balkaya, Ph.D., M.ASCE5. Progressive collapse capacity of a gravity-load designed RC building partially collapsed during structural retrofitting
Author links open overlay panel. MartinaScalvenziFulvioParisi
------------------------------William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCEBuffalo, N.Y."It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880------------------------------
------------------------------Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCEHouston, TX------------------------------