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The National Academies
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Tel: (202) 334-3543
Email: paro@nas.edu
Project Information

Project Information


Analysis of Causes of Failure and Collapse of the 305-Meter Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory


Project Scope:


At the request of the Director of the National Science Foundation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will convene an ad hoc study committee to conduct a review of the failure and collapse of the 305-Meter Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The committee will issue a report explaining the contributing factors and probable cause(s) of the failure and recommendations for measures to prevent similar damage to other facilities in the future. The committee will assess the environmental, physical, and design considerations as well as any administrative or management practices that may have been contributing factors to the failure and include the following tasks:

1. Examine the performance of the structures related to:
      a. Engineering design and material specification for original and subsequent upgrades;
      b. Documented construction procedures and contractor performance;
      c. Environmental conditions, loading events, (e.g. wind, seismic, multi-hazard), corrosion;
      d. Maintenance, repair, and recapitalization activities for the telescope.

2. Assess oversight and management policies and practices that may have been contributing factors to the failure including:
      a. Contractor selection and procurement during construction and repair;
      b. Maintenance planning and oversight;
      c. Routine inspection and structural review;

3. Identify lessons learned for NSF in general for oversight and response actions for other large facilities physical condition, integrity, and function including end-of-life considerations;


4. Identify and recommend actions or general best practices for consideration to limit or prevent other large facility engineering failure or damage at other large NSF facilities that would significantly impact ongoing science.

The committee will issue a single report that presents the committee’s analysis, including findings and/or recommendations, called for in the tasks above within 8 months of contract date. The report will not be an assessment of science priorities or an evaluation of future use for the facility. A final published version will follow within 90 days.


Status: Current

PIN: DEPS-BICE-21-01

Project Duration (months): 12 month(s)

RSO: Oskvig, Cameron


Parent Project(s): N/A


Child Project(s): N/A



Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 12/08/2021

Roger L. McCarthy - (Chair)
Is an independent Mechanical Engineering consultant, an Officer and Treasurer of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a Director on the Board of The National Academies Corporation (TNAC), a member of the National Research Council (NRC) Governing Board. He also serves as a Director on the Board of Shui on Land (SOL), Ltd., which is publicly traded (stock code 0272) on the Hong Kong Exchange. Dr. McCarthy was formerly employed by Exponent, Inc., (NASDAQ symbol “EXPO”), headquartered in Menlo Park, California. Dr. McCarthy joined Exponent, then Failure Analysis Associates, Inc., (FaAA) in 1978, and retired in 2008 where, during his 30+-year tenure, he was variously CEO, Chairman and Chairman Emeritus. In 1992, then President Bush appointed Dr. McCarthy to a two-year term on the President’s Commission on the National Medal of Science. He was Commencement Speaker for the University Of Michigan College Of Engineering Graduation in April 2008. Dr. McCarthy has investigated some of the major disasters of the current age, most recently in the NAE investigation: Deepwater Horizon Explosion, Fire, and Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico for Secretary of the Interior Salazar. He has appeared on The History Channel, Myth Busters, Discovery, Modern Marvels, and the National Geographic Channel.
Dr. McCarthy holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Mechanical Engineering.

Ramon L. Carrasquillo
Is the founder, President, and Consulting engineer working with Carrasquillo Associates, LTD (Austin, Texas) and Carrasquillo Engineering Services Group, PSC (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Formerly a full professor and researcher (1980 – 2000) at the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Texas at Austin also Founder and President from 1994 – 2004 of Rainbow Materials, Inc. a ready-mix concrete supply company operating in Central Texas. For over 20 years performed extensive research in the areas of structural engineering, concrete materials, concrete durability, repair and rehabilitation of structures, construction, forensic engineering, failure analysis and nondestructive testing. Further, since 1980 has provided professional consulting services in the areas of structural engineering, construction, and concrete materials both in the USA and other countries worlwide. Has received numerous awards and recognitions including, among others, the ACI Foundation Award, ACI Robert E. Philleo Award, the ACI Henry C. Turner Medal, Member ACI Board of Directors, UT Austin Faculty Excellence Award, T.Y. Lin Award, and Fellow of the American Concrete Institute. Member of the American Concrete Institute, American Society for Testing and Materials, National Society of Professional Engineers, Structural Engineers Society of Texas, Texas Society of Professional Engineers and Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers. Licensed as a Professional Engineer in Texas and Puerto Rico. Obtained a Bachelor.
Dianne Chong
[NAE], FASM, FSME was the vice president in the Boeing Research and Technology organization in the Boeing Engineering, Operations & Technology organization. In this position, she led special projects that impacted processes and program integration for the Boeing Enterprise. Dr. Chong was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Washington State Academy of Science in 2017. She currently serves on the National Academies’ Gordon Prize committee, the steering committee for EngineerGirl, the Defense Materials, Manufacturing, and Infrastructure Committee, and the Inclusive, Diverse, & Equitable Engineering for All (IDEEA) Committee. Chong is the immediate past President of ABET. She has served on the board, the Covid task group, and the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Committee of the Washington State Academy of Science. Chong is a member of TMS, AIAA, ASM International, SME, SWE, Beta Gamma Sigma, and Tau Beta Pi. She has served on the board of trustees, is a fellow of ASM International, and in 2007-08, was elected as the first female president of ASM International. She has led the ASM Women in Materials Engineering Committee and serves on the ASM Action in Education Team. Chong is currently president of SME, and is a fellow of SME. Chong was also inducted into the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2020 as part of the inaugural class. She has been recognized for managerial achievements and as a diversity change agent. Chong was also received an award for alumna achievement from the University of Illinois in 2019. Chong has also supported national efforts by supporting teams for the National Academies studies on reproducibility and replicability and materials and manufacturing workshops. Chong received her bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology from the University of Illinois. She also earned master’s degrees in physiology and metallurgical engineering. In 1986, Chong received her doctorate in metallurgical engineering from the University of Illinois. She also completed an executive master of manufacturing management at Washington University and has green belt in Six Sigma.
Robert B. Gilbert
[NAE] Is Chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He joined the faculty in 1993 after practicing as a geotechnical engineer for five years with Golder Associates Inc. His technical focus is the assessment, evaluation and management of risk for civil engineering systems. He has participated in the design or forensic analysis of foundations for a variety of large facilities throughout the world, including offshore energy production systems, bridges, chemical processing plants and flood protection systems. Dr. Gilbert has been awarded the Norman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers and an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He served previously on an NRC committee to assess the performance of waste containment systems.
W. Allen Marr, Jr.
[NAE] Founded and leads Geocomp, one of the foremost providers in USA of real-time, web-based performance monitoring of civil engineering structures, including dams, levees, deep excavations, retaining walls, tunnels, buildings, bridges and utilities. Allen also has extensive experience in testing to measure the mechanical properties of earthen materials, as well as designing earth structures, determining the causes of poor performance of geotechnical structures and developing cost effective remedial measures for troubled projects. He has been instrumental in applying methods of risk assessment and risk management to infrastructure projects. He has participated in several major failure investigations including New Orleans levees, Millennium Tower in San Francisco, and several dams. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Engineers and the Moles. He has published widely and given invited keynote lectures around the world on topics in geotechnical engineering, performance monitoring, data management and risk management. He served two terms as President of the ASCE Academy of GeoProfessionals. Last year he was awarded the ASCE Seed Medal for his contributions to the advancement of research, practice, teaching, and professional service in geotechnical engineering.
John R. Scully
Is the department chair, Charles Henderson Chaired Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; and co-director for Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering at University of Virginia. He received his PhD in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1987. He has had appointments with the Naval Ship R&D center, AT&T Bell Laboratories and Sandia National Labs prior to joining the faculty at UVA in 1990. Dr. Scully’s technical focus includes most forms of corrosion and environment assisted cracking in numerous environments including marine, nuclear, transportation, infrastructure and aerospace focusing on a wide variety of materials. He has published over 300 archival publications on these topics. He has developed and patented anti-microbial materials for high touch surface that inactivate the COVID-19 virus and written several editorials in CORROSION discussing the “science behind it” associated with high touch surfaces and copper impregnated masks for COVID-19 virus inactivation. He has investigated lead in drinking water piping systems to clarify materials issues central to disasters such as Flint, Michigan. He has served on numerous government review boards concerned with materials reliability, aging, and materials failures. These include the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, spent nuclear fuel long term storage canisters in Canada, Sweden, Great Britain as well as the US. He also worked on the Defense Science Task Forces on Corrosion Control and Airborne Refueling. He has previously been a member of NRC corrosion studies such as ACE, ROCSE, and High-Performance Bolting Technology for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations.
SawTeen See
(PE, Dist. M. ASCE, FIStructE) currently provides consulting design services; she is partly retired. President of See Robertson Structural Engineers (current).

Ms. See was the Managing Director of Robert Bird Group (USA) (February 2019-January 2020); Design Director, Robert Bird Group (June 2018 – January 2019). Co-founded See Robertson Structural Engineers, LLC with Leslie E. Robertson in 2018. Joined Skilling, Helle, Christiansen, Robertson in 1978; Co-founded Leslie E. Robertson Associates (LERA) with Leslie Robertson in 1986, and was the Managing Partner from 1991 to 2017.

She has extensive experience in the structural design of the full spectrum of building types. Particular expertise in tall building design, long-span structures; projects all over the world. Partner-in-charge of the structural engineering of the 492m Shanghai World Financial Center; the 555m Lotte World Tower in Seoul; the 678.9m Merdeka PNB 118 Tower, Kuala Lumpur topped out as the second tallest building in the world; the Miho Museum and Bridge, Kyoto, Japan; Baltimore Convention Center Expansion, Baltimore, MD; San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA; National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA, etc. Peer reviewed 3 buildings over 400m.

Fellow, Institution of Structural Engineers (FIStructE), United Kingdom, 2019; Distinguished Member and Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2004; Fellow, New York Academy of Sciences, 2005; Professional Achievement Award, Professional Women in Construction, 2002; Asian Women in Business Leadership Award, 2006. B.Sc. (civil engineering) Cornell University 1977; M. Eng (structural engineering) Cornell University 1978.


Habib Tabatabai
Is a Professor of Structural Engineering and Director of the Structural Engineering Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Prior to that, he was a Principal Structural Engineer with the CTL Group (1989-1999) and a bridge engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation (1987-1989). He has conducted research on topics related to bridges including reliability, durability, corrosion, and repair of structures, stay cable condition assessments, fatigue, and vibration control, and survival analysis of structures. He wrote the NCHRP synthesis report 353 on inspection and maintenance of stay cables and served as PI on an FHWA study on stay cables. He has also served as Co-PI for an NCHRP project on condition evaluation of strands in concrete bridges and an FHWA study on jointless bridges. He is a licensed Structural Engineer (SE) and Professional Engineer (PE) in Illinois. He led the qualification testing of cables for all cable-stayed bridges built in the US in the 1990s. He has published over 120 technical publications and has a US patent. He is a member of the PTI committee on cable-stayed bridges (DC-45) and has served on the ASCE Committee 19 (Structural Applications of Steel Cables for Buildings) (2005-2020).

Events



Location:


PR-625
Arecibo, 00612
PRI

Event Type :  
Meeting

Description :   

Committee Site Visit at the Arecibo Observatory and interviews with site and engineering staff.





If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Cameron Oskvig
Contact Email:  coskvig@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2663

Supporting File(s)
-
Is it a Closed Session Event?
No

Publication(s) resulting from the event:

-

Event Type :  
Meeting

Description :   

At the request of the Director of the National Science Foundation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has convene a committee to conduct a review of the failure and collapse of the 305-Meter Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The committee will receive briefings from contracted consultants and management staff on technical analysis performed for the Arecibo Telescope, including design review, structural analysis, and metallurgical testing.  


Registration for Online Attendance :   
https://livestream.com/accounts/7036396/events/10161249

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
N/A


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Cameron Oskvig
Contact Email:  coskvig@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2663

Supporting File(s)
-
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Some sessions are open and some sessions are closed

Publication(s) resulting from the event:

-

Event Type :  
Meeting

Description :   

The committee will meet to review goals and objectives regarding the of Causes of Failure and Collapse of the 305-Meter Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory Study. 

Topic include:

TOPICS

  • Study Intentions
  • Expected Outcomes
  • Overview of NSF Facilities Oversight
  • Arecibo Observatory Oversight and Management
  • Arecibo Observatory Operations and Maintenance during Grant Competition and Transition
  • Sequence of Failure Events and Actions Taken

This meeting is being conducted virtually.

Live Stream Link: https://livestream.com/accounts/7036396/events/10079463

 


Registration for Online Attendance :   
N/A

Registration for in Person Attendance :   
N/A


If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Cameron Oskvig
Contact Email:  coskvig@nas.edu
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-2663

Supporting File(s)
-
Is it a Closed Session Event?
Some sessions are open and some sessions are closed

The following topics were discussed in the closed sessions:

Outline draft and selected topic coverage in report

Publication(s) resulting from the event:

-

Publications

  • Publications having no URL can be seen at the Public Access Records Office
Publications

No data present.