Kareem and Spence to Receive 2015 Croes Medal

Author: Nina Welding

Ahsan Kareem, the Robert M. Moran Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and Seymour M.J. Spence, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, have been named the winners of the 2015 J. James R. Croes Medal. Bestowed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Croes Medal is given to authors whose paper [published in any of the 35 ASCE journals] was particularly notable for its contribution to engineering science. Established in 1912, the Croes Medal is one of the most prestigious awards given to best papers. It will be officially presented at the ASCE Annual Conference in New York later this year.

Kareem and Spence’s award-winning article, titled “Tall Buildings and Damping: a Concept-based Data-driven Model,” was published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Structural Engineering. It focused on modern tall buildings and their sensitivity to the effects of wind and the critical role of damping. Damping, adjusting for the motion of structures in wind, is inherently complex because it depends on a number of ways in which energy can be dissipated in a building. Kareem and Spence reviewed data collected from full-scale measurements in Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Yokohama, Dubai, and Seoul, as well as previously existing databases from other buildings. This data helped them highlight the merits and shortcomings of current damping models. They then proposed a novel and robust model based on their data and the underlying physics of damping that can be calibrated to specific buildings and their features.

Kareem, who serves as the director of the NatHaz Modeling Laboratory at the University, is globally recognized for his expertise in structural engineering, including the dynamics of tall buildings, long-span bridges, and deep-water offshore structures in extreme environmental conditions like hurricanes, the development of cyber-based infrastructure for modeling and simulation of structural performance, and collaborations for research and education in wind effects.

Among the many honors received during his career, Kareem was most recently awarded with the 2015 Theodore Von Karman Medal, the Distinguished Research Award by the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, and election as an inaugural fellow of the Engineering Mechanics Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

A longer look at his career, however, includes many more accolades. Kareem is a distinguished member of the ASCE, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, and a foreign fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering. In 2012 he was inducted to the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Hall of Fame for his papers, which were presented in early years of the OTC and offered innovation, direction, and lasting impact on the design, construction, and installation of offshore infrastructure.

He has also received the ASCE’s State-of-the-Art Award for scholarly contributions to full-scale monitoring of tall buildings, was selected the inaugural recipient of the Alan G. Davenport Medal, and was awarded the Robert H. Scanlan Medal for outstanding original contributions to the study of wind-load effects on structural design, as well as the Jack E. Cermak Medal in recognition of his contributions to the study of wind effects on structures. His receipt of the Von Karman, Davenport, Scanlan and Cermak medals is unmatched in his field.

In addition to the national honors he has garnered, Kareem has participated in numerous international collaborations and programs to promote innovation in science and technology, such as the 2014 Foreign Experts Symposium in Shanghai. Appointed by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China as a high-end consultant to Tongji University — the highest level of appointment given to a foreign expert in China — and designated as honorary professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, he holds honorary professorships at Southwest Jiao Tong University in Chengdu and Hong Kong Polytechnic University and serves as a guest professor at other universities throughout China.

A Notre Dame faculty member since 1990, Kareem graduated from the West Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology with distinction and, through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned his master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Hawaii. He earned his doctorate in civil engineering, with a focus on structural and fluid dynamics, from Colorado State University.

Spence, the co-author, was a research assistant professor in the NatHaz Modeling Laboratory working with Kareem, when the paper was published. He currently serves on the faculty of the University of Michigan. His main research interests lie in the areas of system and component reliability and performance-based design, probabilistic modeling, wind engineering, and data-driven modeling and design strategies.