Josh Kardon Presents at Westcon May 2012 Meeting

Validity and Reliability of Testimony Regarding the “Standard of Care” is the title of Josh’s presentation at the Westcon (Western Construction Consultants) dinner meeting on Wednesday, May 16, 2012.  The Westcon meeting will be at Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive in Berkeley and starts at 6:15pm with a social hour. It is open to non-members. Dinner reservations are required by May 11. Call (510) 548-1892 for more information.


Understanding the causes of failure is an important basic skill required by engineers.  This link opens a new browser tab with Astronaut Mike Mullane’s You Tube page.  He has a very clear explanation there of the phenomenon known as “normalization of deviance,” a human behavior that leads to failure.  He has several other You Tube postings, and his web site is worth a visit, too.

The American Society of Civil Engineers Membership Applications Review Committee (MARC) has reviewed and approved the election of Joshua B. Kardon to ASCE Fellow.

From the ASCE web site:  “There is no direct admission to the grade of Fellow. Fellow status must be attained by professional accomplishments via application and election by the Membership Application Review Committee. It is a prestigious honor held by fewer than 5% of ASCE members.  Fellows are practitioners, educators, mentors, and most of all leaders. They have distinguished careers that have contributed significantly to the Civil Engineering profession. The accomplishments of Fellows have left their marks on their communities, society, and future engineering professionals.  Currently, active Fellows around the world number over 6,200.”

Preparation for an earthquake should include proactive, interactive and reactive actions.

Proactive actions include completing seismic retrofit of buildings, bridges, dams, power plants; establishing a means of planning for and sharing the risk of economic impact (earthquake insurance); setting aside emergency supplies; planning for, establishing, and practicing emergency procedures, including  means of communication to be used during and after an earthquake.

Interactive actions include, among other things, the use of Earthquake Early Warning systems.  Here’s a video about an EEW system from Japan (thanks Alfredo Gomez)  Link to YouTube.

Reactive actions include search and rescue; triage and recovery; operation and use of the systems and supplies established proactively; reconstruction to new standards shown to be important by the most recent full-scale “experiment” performed the earthquake, and evaluation of the performance of the proactive and interactive actions and improvements to those actions as necessary.

All these actions require diligent, competent, caring citizens in a wide range of fields, including government, industry, and the professions.  Structural engineers can be a very important part of several of those actions, but the most important ingredient is the larger society as a whole which understands the risk of an earthquake and values the need for preparation.

Robert Reich on the economy:

On You Tube:

How does one select a structural engineer? Is structural engineering for a project a commodity (an article of commerce) or a professional service (the performance of a duty)? If structural engineering is a commodity, like lumber or copper pipe, it might make sense to select the cheapest structural engineer. However, if the engineer is considered the provider of a professional service, lowest price may not be the appropriate primary motivator.

The Administrative Hearing Commission of the State of Missouri, when evaluating the performance of the structural engineers for the design of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency after the 1981 collapse of the suspended walkways determined the following:

“In summary, this Commission rejects [the engineers’] evidence characterizing the role, duties and responsibility of structural engineers under the custom and practice, wherein they contend that licensed professionals are merely additional contractors on a project. The custom and practice urged upon us by [the engineers] smacks of cost benefit analysis run amok and is improperly inserted out of place in a system requiring professional judgment and integrity. It imputes to the licensed professional the same financial and economic motives as are held by the construction team. This attempt by [the engineers] to join the construction team leaves the owner and the public unprotected from a hazardous activity for no greater purpose than [the engineers’] convenience and financial benefit. To the extent [the engineers] do and did perform their functions as professional engineers in accordance with such an unauthorized view of their role and responsibility, their practice is not in accordance with acceptable standards of engineering practice.” (Emphasis added.)

This video was produced by Arup in 2009.