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Andrew Whittaker Elected MCEER Director

Andrew S. Whittaker

Andrew S. Whittaker, Ph.D., S.E., an expert in earthquake and blast engineering, has been elected MCEER Director. As Director, he assumes overall leadership of MCEER and its research, education and outreach initiatives. A University at Buffalo (UB) faculty member since 2001, he becomes the sixth director in the Center's 25-year history.

Whittaker, Professor and Chair of UB's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, was elected to the post by the MCEER Management Council, a group of University at Buffalo faculty members who oversee MCEER's operations. As MCEER Director, he will also serve as Chair of the Council.

“Andrew Whittaker’s extensive background in earthquake and blast engineering will further strengthen MCEER’s mission as a multidisciplinary, multi-hazard engineering center. We are pleased to have him as MCEER’s next director,” said Rajan Batta, Ph.D., Acting Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB. 

His research and professional interests are in earthquake and blast engineering. He is a licensed Structural Engineer in the State of California, and serves as a member of several American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) committees that address structural loads, blast engineering, and earthquake protective systems. He is also a member of American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 349 on reinforced concrete nuclear structures, and serves on the Advisory Council for the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC). He is the Structural Team Lead for the Applied Technology Council ATC-58 project on performance-based earthquake engineering, and was a member of the 3-person MCEER-NSF reconnaissance team that collected forensic data at Ground Zero in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Whittaker is also a recognized structural engineering expert in the seismic resilience of nuclear power structures, and has conducted extensive research on fragility evaluation of conventional and isolated power plants, risk assessment procedures, modular composite construction for Generation III+ plants, and proposed designs for Generation IV reactors. He is recognized for his work on blast analysis of nuclear power infrastructure, and has served on various national professional committees addressing the seismic safety of nuclear power facilities.

Whittaker succeeds Andre Filiatrault, Professor of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, who stepped down to more intently pursue his research interests. Over the past three years, Filiatrault has led the Center in continuing to advance its expanded scope of multi-hazard engineering and disaster resilience.

Filiatrault led the initial phase of development of the University at Buffalo/MCEER Experimental Campus for Large Infrastructure Protection, Sustainability and Enhancement - ECLIPSE Campus, an MCEER public-private initiative that enables large- and full-scale testing of new knowledge, tools and technologies to intelligently renew our Nation's infrastructure and protect it against a host of hazards, both natural and man-made. The campus has been home to the MCEER Full-Scale Bridge Project, focused on the in-situ study of the properties of seismic isolation bearings to a wide variety of climatic conditions over a period of time, as well as to air blast impact studies on infrastructure components.

Filiatrault also served as the driving force behind the continuing UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar series, a joint effort with Haiti’s Quisqueya University (UniQ) in Port-au-Prince. Established in an effort to help the island nation effectively rebuild following the January 2010 earthquake, the program has educated more than 500 engineers in Port-au-Prince on fundamentals of earthquake engineering design and construction. Filiatrault also served as MCEER Deputy Director from 2003 to 2007.