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In this episode, we talk to Scott J. DiFiore, P.E., P.Eng. (AB), D.GE, Principal at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., about the development of the new ASCE Standard for the design of foundations for buildings and other structures.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Scott:
- Can you please tell our listeners a bit more about yourself, and what you do daily at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.?
- You chair the committee for essentially all things geotech, from shallow/deep foundations and ground improvement to seismic and special inspection considerations, just to name a few. How does your involvement with these committees benefit your engineering career?
- How do you make sure you are getting all the right people to the table for this new standard?
- Do you know what the milestones are going to be and is there an anticipated release date?
- What prompted the decision to make a new standard for the design of foundations?
- Compared to ASCE7, is making the new standard a bigger job?
- How often do the 60 committee members meet?
- What is the range of experience needed for people who want to join in on making the new standard?
- Do you see other benefits of this project in terms of other civil disciplines working together in the future?
- What final advice would you like to give to geotechnical engineers out there?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About the Development of a New ASCE Standard for the Design of Foundations:
- The SEI Codes and Standards Committee has been developing the design of foundations for buildings and other structures that is like the ASCE 7 standard. SEI and Geo-Institute committee professionals, contractors, and building officials were all on the committee. It is not an update of an existing standard, but a new standard that comes with its challenges.
- Many professionals from different geographic areas and different disciplines are on the committee. It was important to have both structural and geotechnical professionals on the committee to bring their different perspectives to the table. It is a requirement to have certain contractors, design professionals, building professionals, and professors on the committee. The committee is comprised of 60 professionals who can reach out to other external professionals if any input is needed. There is also a public process of balloting to address and resolve comments from the public.
- A normal standard cycle is five years, but this new standard for the design of foundations is a bigger project than updating an existing standard. The new standard could be released sometime in the next decade, maybe around four or five years from now, because there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
- The idea of making a new standard for the design of foundations came about because many kinds of foundations are not covered in the current design codes and standards. The current codes have been modified so many times over the years, causing them to become disjointed and inconsistent. To make the new standard, we need to address the systems that are missing and add the foundation types that are missing.
- ASCE 7 was a monster of a project to complete, with hundreds of people on the committee. The new standard for the design of foundations is also a mammoth project, but it is almost impossible to compare the two.
- The committee members collectively started out meeting monthly until the various chapters were determined. Now the chapters have monthly virtual meetings; the committee members meet two to three times a year virtually but started having in-person meetings last year.
- Engineers of any experience level can help with making the new standard. There is always something that someone can help with. There are different tasks available that will suit young engineers as well as seasoned professionals. It is a great opportunity for young engineers to grow their networks and learn from more seasoned professionals.
- There are a lot more delegated design and specialty systems needed in the civil engineering industry of late. It causes many kinds of professionals to pull together in making the designs. The key to making delegated design projects work is good coordination, which is needed so that everyone can see and know what everyone else is doing.
- If something is missing in a design, asking questions about it will help you to get the information you need for the design. If something is not within the scope of the project, you might need to request a changed scope condition. It is important to have these conversations even though they can be tough sometimes. We are seeing an improvement in communication in the industry, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Scott J. DiFiore, P.E., P.Eng. (AB), D.GE
Scott has over 25 years of experience in structural, geotechnical, and civil engineering consulting. Scott’s practice is diversified into the design, investigation, and rehabilitation of a variety of structures. Scott has advanced degrees in both structural and geotechnical engineering, and he leverages both to solve complex problems related to below-grade construction and soil-structure interaction, including underpinning systems, excavation-support systems, deep and shallow foundations, retaining walls, slabs, slopes, dams, tunnels, buried utilities, and other underground structures. His broad experience also includes evaluation and protection of structures during adjacent construction activity, assessment, and repair of deteriorated concrete; evaluation and retrofit of elevated slabs and roof decks for new equipment or load conditions; evaluation of controlled demolition approaches; condition assessments; and design of temporary works. As part of Scott’s work, he utilizes the in-house laboratory to assess the conditions of materials, including concrete, wood, steel, coatings, and other materials.
Scott understands how to interface with various stakeholders on projects, including owners, developers, contractors, engineers, architects, and insurers. His in-depth understanding of different stakeholder perspectives allows him to lead project teams toward efficient and creative approaches that simplify problems and result in successful project delivery. Scott’s diverse background in design, investigation, and rehabilitation also allows him to serve effectively as an engineering expert in litigious matters, and he has extensive experience in writing litigation reports and assisting in alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration. Scott has taught classes in Applied Mechanics at Tufts University, serves on the Geotechnical Advisory Committee that supports the Massachusetts State Building Code, and is the chairperson for a new American Society of Civil Engineers foundation design standard under development.
About the Host: Jared M. Green, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
Jared, originally from southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Engineering in 2001 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He later went on to attain his M.S. in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical Focus) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign, in 2002. In 2003, he began working in the New York City office of Langan. He has since become a Principal / Vice President and is one of the owners of this international land development engineering consulting firm. After 15 years at Langan, Jared moved to the Philadelphia office and is one of the geotechnical practice leaders in that office.
Jared is a consultant and team leader who also enjoys mentoring young engineers and first-generation college students. He has been instrumental in increasing the number of pre-college students who are interested in STEAM majors and fields. He strives to make complex engineering topics relatable and understandable to people new to the field and to people who are completely unfamiliar with engineering. Jared and his family currently reside in Flemington, New Jersey. He and his wife have three energetic, inquisitive, and awesome children. You can connect with Jared here.
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.
Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) – ASCE
ASCE 7 Standard
SEI Codes and Standards Committee
Geo-Institute (G-I) ASCE
Connect with Scott J. DiFiore, P.E., P.Eng. (AB), D.GE on LinkedIn
Send Scott an email
Give Scott a call
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Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on the development of the new ASCE standard for the design of foundations.
To your success,
Jared M. Green, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast