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UB Dept. Civil, Structural, & Environmental Engineering




Stuart S. Chen, Ph.D., P.E.

After obtaining his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University with Highest Honors, Stuart Chen was employed for four years in design-build steel fabrication with Frazier Steel in Long Valley, NJ.  First as Design Engineer and subsequently as Chief Engineer of Standard Products, he was performed structural design and engineering of steel storage rack systems and rack-supported warehouse buildings to meet all applicable guidelines, codes and specifications to hold the storage, impact, wind and seismic loads and inter­face satisfactorily with other equipment as part of material handling systems.  In addition, he reviewed shop drawings in a setting where to overlook errors was to incur many dollars of rework costs.  As Chief Engineer he was also responsible for developing and upgrading fabrication standards to be maintained at a number of diverse subcontractor steel fabricator sites across the country, developing and refining structural concepts, and designing and carrying out test procedures and reporting of physical prototype testing of structural components.  He developed a system for coordinating the Engineering department sched­ules with fabrication schedules and implemented a standard set of guidelines for checking draw­ings to minimize errors and ensure clarity for fabrication and construction purposes in a setting where design for accelerated steel fabrication and erection constructibility was of paramount concern.

Chen’s graduate studies at Lehigh maintained a dual focus on steel bridges (redundancy and fatigue and fracture) and IT/CAE (Information Technology and Computer-Aided Engineering: 3D Finite Element modeling, computer graphics programming, and knowledge-based systems, all applied to steel girder bridge structures).  Dr. Chen conducted many of the analytical modeling studies that were published in NCHRP Report No. 319 in 1989, on the after-fracture redundancy of steel girder highway bridges.  Much of his subsequent research at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) has continued these foci along with earthquake engineering aspects.

Dr. Chen served as Project Director on NCHRP Project 12-58, on Effective Slab Width of Composite Steel Bridge Members.  This study was initially based primarily on a finite element parametric investigation of a set of bridge configurations prescribed by design-of-experiments concepts.  The finite element methodology itself was corroborated by half-scale and quarter-scale bridge experimental results obtained by Chen and his team.  The principal findings of the study present recommended criteria for evaluation of effective slab width based on utilizing the full available physical width subject to the limits on ranges of principal parameters investigated in the parametric study.  These recommendations are the most liberal and yet simple to apply of all other bridge specifications internationally.  The recommendations were incorporated into Caltrans specs and are being balloted in the 2007 AASHTO SCOBS (Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures) process.

Awards received include the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Engineering Educator of the Year award from the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE).  He received his first patent, for "Antiseismic Device for Buildings and Works of Art," U.S. Patent #6,256,943, with J. B. Mander and G. Pekcan, in 2001. The NSF PYI research focused on developing and deploying both information architectures and computational techniques for computer-based models of structures instrumented for "smart structure" health monitoring purposes.   Four MS theses and two PhD dissertations were completed based on this work.  The first PhD graduate (Kim) was in charge of a number of major bridge health monitoring systems for major bridges in Korea before being appointed to the position of Professor of Structural Engineering on the faculty of Seoul National University of Technology, and the second (Schwartz) is an Assistant Professor (in Computer Science) at Cornell University.

In the area of 3D BrIM (Bridge Information Modeling) and related topics for bridges, Chen served as discussion facilitator and editor of the report of a workshop (2001) sponsored by the FHWA Office of Bridge Technology in collaboration with the National Steel Bridge Alliance organized by Shirole’ (Chen 2001) to discuss integrating advanced computer-aided technologies in the design, fabrication, and construction of steel bridges.  The mission of the workshop was to establish a roadmap for integrating steel bridge design through-construction processes and for advancing the state-of-the-practice in steel bridge manufacturing automation and productivity.

One of the outcomes from this workshop was a recommendation to identify and document the various computer automation and data communication technologies needed to build cost-effective and quality bridges in a time efficient manner, from planning through in-service, subsequently carried out by Chen et al. (2003) in NCHRP 20/07 Task 149 and in an NCHRP-IDEA sponsored pilot study (Shirole’ and Chen 2005, Chen and Shirole’ 2006).  Another of the outcomes was a call for the development of a demonstration currently being developed as part of a study of “Integrated Bridge Project Delivery and Life Cycle Management,” FHWA Contract DTFH61-06-D-00037, being coordinated by Arora and Associates, P.C.

Courses taught at UB (the University at Buffalo), several via distance-learning, include Computer-Aided Design in Civil Engineering, Expert Systems, Structural Analysis and Design, Metal Structures, Bridge Engineering, Electronic Data Interchange Applications in Civil Engineering, Master of Engineering Project on 3D-Centric Design, Modeling and Construction of Bridge Replacements (for teams of Structural Engineering and Construction Management graduate students), and Steel Bridge Engineering (the latter sponsored by NSBA with a significant fabrication and construction focus and attended by engineers from 18 state DOTs and 24 colleges and universities).  Short courses taught include Computer-Aided Design using MicroStation and Steel and Concrete Bridge Design according to AASHTO LRFD Specifications to engineering practitioner audiences at various state DOT offices and at the annual International Bridge Conference (Pittsburgh, PA).  Training obtained includes 3D CAD modeling and software development using Bentley and Tekla software products and the AASHTOWare API (Application Programming Interface). 

Dr. Stuart Chen is thus an experienced researcher and instructor in applications of emerging information technologies to bridge engineering and has design experience in a structural steel fabrication setting, along with a track record conducting practical problem-focused research.  This research includes applied finite element modeling, large- and full- scale experimentation, practical applications, 3D CAD modeling and CAD software development, expert systems programming, and production of specifications and guides for technology implementation for use by bridge engineering practitioners.

Dr. Chen lives in a suburb of Buffalo with his wife, Pam, and their two children: a daughter, Jordan, and a son, Gabriel.

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