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FHWA Research Engineer Wins Arthur S. Flemming Award

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Glenn A. Washer

FHWA Research Engineer Wins Arthur S. Flemming Award

Federal Highway Administration
June 12, 2001

Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Contact: Karen Whitney
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 22–01

Promoted Advanced Bridge Inspection Technologies

Glenn A. Washer, a research structural engineer at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), has been named a recipient of the prestigious Arthur S. Flemming award. He received the award in the category of applied science from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I commend Glenn for earning this award and for advancing America’s ability to ensure the safety of bridges,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. “This is what good government is about, and it underscores our commitment to improving transportation.”

Washer was cited for achievement in establishing the Nondestructive Evaluation Validation Center (NDEVC), the first national center for the development and testing of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) technologies for inspecting bridges. The center is housed at FHWA's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va.

Examples of NDE technologies include instruments that "see" through paint and the development of a special vehicle that can travel at highway speeds while gathering internal images of bridge conditions using instruments similar to sonograms.

“Glenn’s award is a tremendous honor that highlights our results-oriented approach to research and development," FHWA Deputy Executive Director Vincent F. Schimmoller said. “His keen vision and outstanding leadership have resulted in the development of this unique center which provides an essential service to our customers and partners and is helping to revolutionize the bridge evaluation process.”

The objective of the NDEVC is to improve the state-of-the-practice for highway bridge inspection. The center encourages use of NDE technologies that allow the internal condition of structures and pavements to be quickly and accurately analyzed with the least possible disruption of traffic. The center serves as a national resource for state transportation agencies, industry, and academia concerned with the development and testing of NDE technologies.

These technologies surpass current methods for evaluating bridges, which include inspecting the deck condition visually, sounding a bare deck with a chain or hammer, or taking cores and removing paint. These traditional methods often require lane closures, are limited in their ability to determine the internal condition of the bridge, and are difficult to apply rapidly to a large number of bridges. NDE technologies reveal internal conditions at the early stages before they are visually observable, allowing for lower-cost repairs and improving the ability of inspectors to accurately assess the condition of a bridge.

The NDEVC provides state highway agencies with independent evaluation and validation of NDE technologies, develops new NDE technologies, and provides technical assistance to states exploring the use of these advanced technologies.

Washer joined the FHWA in 1990. He is a registered professional engineer in Virginia and recently earned a doctorate in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He is the second FHWA researcher to receive the Flemming award in the last four years. FHWA research engineer Carol Tan Esse received the award in 1997 for developing a prototype software called the Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) and a CD-ROM for computer visualization of pedestrian and bicycle roadway improvements.

The Flemming program, now in its 52nd year, honors outstanding men and women in the federal government. The award is named after Dr. Arthur Sherwood Flemming, whose seven-decade career included service as president of three universities, secretary of the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Aging and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Past recipients of the Flemming award include U.S. Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

Additional information on the NDE program is at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center website at www.tfhrc.gov.

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