American University of Beirut civil engineering professor Shadi Najjar was selected to receive the Norman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) during the Leadership Luncheon at the society’s Annual Conference October 22-23, 2011 in Memphis Tennessee.
The Norman Medal is the most prestigious award of the ASCE, granted annually since 1874 for a technical paper which makes a definitive contribution to engineering science. The list of Norman Medal recipients over the last 135 years is a testament to the caliber of the award.
Professor Najjar’s paper was written in collaboration with his PhD advisor and co-award winner Professor Robert Gilbert from the University of Texas in Austin. The paper, entitled “Importance of Lower-Bound Capacities in the Design of Deep Foundations,” contributed to engineering science by introducing, for the first time, the lower-bound capacity as a parameter that could optimize the design of a deep foundation and increase its reliability.
Professor Najjar said that before their paper was published, the lower-bound capacity was used only as a check for worst case conditions, but he and his co-researchers found that it plays a big role in adding reliability to design if incorporated properly. What adds to the practical contribution of the paper and its impact is that the proposed lower-bound capacity could be computed using simple physical models that depend on the worst case soil conditions and the properties of the foundation. In selecting the paper for the award, the committee noted particularly its potential for significant practical contribution toward improving the load and resistance factor design (LRFD) methodology in geotechnical engineering design.
Professor Najjar said that AUB plays a big role in the continuous development of his research which is supported technically and financially by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA), and by the University Research Board (URB). This support enabled Dr. Najjar to fund graduate assistants and to attend international conferences exposing his research, paving the way for his nomination for the award.
Shadi Najjar entered AUB in 1995 as a civil engineering student; six years later, he graduated with an ME in civil engineering. Najjar then pursued a PhD at the University of Texas in Austin, specializing in geotechnical engineering, a discipline of civil engineering concerned with soil-structure interaction for the design of foundations of buildings and bridges, dealing with everything related to landslides, earth retaining systems, rocks, and the ground.