The College of Engineering and Computing at Florida International University (FIU) has appointed Dr. Atorod Azizinamini as the Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering starting in January 2011. Known worldwide as a leading visionary bridge engineer, Dr. Azizinamini has received a number of awards, including the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF) Charles Pankow Award for his innovative bridge system, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Special Achievement Award for his significant contributions to steel bridge engineering and its impact on the steel industry, the AISC’s 2005 Prize Bridge Competition Merit Award for his outstanding design in structural steel-Medium Span Bridge Category, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) Innovation in Steel Bridge Award for his valuable contributions to High Performance Steel, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) “Partnership in Excellence Award” for his contributions to the Accelerated Bridge Construction, and the FHWA’s “Major Achievement Award” for promoting the use of High Performance Steel in the U.S. His reputation in the bridge industry knows no bounds. He serves as advisor to projects in many countries including the Republic of Korea for incorporating advanced materials in bridges.

“This is a significant accomplishment for our Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to attract such an outstanding international researcher and entrepreneur in the bridge engineering arena.” said Amir Mirmiran, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, “We are thrilled at the opportunities that lie ahead for FIU to play a major role in the area of Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC).”

Dr. Azizinamini comes to FIU from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is currently a Distinguished College of Engineering Professor and the Director of National Bridge Research Organization. He has been instrumental in facilitating the use of advanced materials and technologies in bridges by educating professional engineers and conducting major research studies. He has also been an entrepreneur and a leader in developing innovative bridge systems and implementing novel concepts in practice. His patented “Folded Plate Girder” system provides a cost-effective solution for replacing deficient short span bridges, which account for the majority of the 650,000 bridges in the U.S. bridge inventory.

When the Congress established the second strategic highway research program (SHRP 2) in 2006 with $232M funding to advance the nation’s transportation infrastructure, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences identified three topics in the bridge engineering area. Dr. Azizinamini is the principal investigator leading one of the three initiatives (SHRP2 R19A), with an objective of developing technologies for bridges with 100+ years of service life. As part of his multi-million dollar project, Dr. Azizinamini is developing the most comprehensive guide worldwide entitled “Guide for Bridges for Life,” for enhancing the service life of bridges. This guide is expected to have long lasting effect on how bridges are designed, constructed and maintained.

Dr. Azizinamini’s research activities have been diverse. In the early 1990s he conducted a number of projects funded by the National Science Foundation to develop technologies for utilizing High Performance Concrete in buildings and bridges, with an emphasis on highly seismic areas. In 1995, he was selected through NSF to be a member of the U.S. delegation to work cooperatively with Japanese researchers to develop technologies for the next generation of high-rise buildings in seismic regions.

He is a proud mentor of many M.S. and Ph.D. students who are now either faculty members or established design professionals. “Students are our main clientele and we, as educators, should never forget who we are serving. Everything we do is to help provide our students with the best education and training that is possible. As a faculty member, we may undertake various activities. However, these activities, ultimately must be serving our students. As a faculty member, we are obligated to conduct research – not just to satisfy our curiosity– but more importantly, educate ourselves, educate our students and help keeping everyone at the forefront of the knowledge. This in turn will allow us to better serve our students and better educate them. Research, teaching and service are three components of our mission that are interrelated and each one could not be effective without the existence of the other two, especially at an institution, emphasizing graduate level education. We owe it to our students to be active and first-rated researchers.”

Dr. Azizinamini holds a B.S degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. degree from the University of South Carolina in 1985. He is a registered professional engineer in several states. He has carried out numerous research studies in Structural Engineering field and has published more than 200 journal papers, books, and technical articles. He routinely gives keynote talks at major national and international conferences and has co-chaired a number of important national and international bridge engineering conferences, including almost all FHWA Bridge Engineering Conferences devoted to accelerated bridge construction and the use of advanced materials.

Dr. Azizinamini’s interests are spending time with his family, jogging, playing chess and martial arts, in which he owns five world championship titles. “I look forward to joining the FIU family. Future, indeed, looks bright for FIU and the sky is truly the limit, given the talents, resources and the commitment that I see to excellence,” says Dr. Azizinamini.