Tuesday August 30, 2005

New Civil Engineering Chair Named

A concrete and structures expert, Faris Malhas is a co-author of what is believed to be the world's most widely used steel structures design textbook. He currently is researching the vulnerability of bridges and other transportation systems against a terrorist attack.

New University of Dayton civil engineering department chair Faris Malhas is assessing how vulnerable bridges and other transportation systems are against a terrorist attack.

Malhas secured funding through a grant for Florida's public universities while at the University of North Florida. He is working with the state of Ohio — home to the second largest inventory of bridges and the fourth largest interstate highway network in the nation — to receive funding for a similar research project.

"We live in a different engineering world than we did before Sept. 11, 2001," said Malhas, the replacement for Joe Saliba, who was promoted to UD School of Engineering dean. "Structural engineers always designed for 'normal' things. When something is subjected to abnormal forces, it's very confusing to the civil engineering community because of how random 'abnormal' events occur and design methods for such adverse situations are absent."

In addition to transportation systems, Malhas' work can apply to hospitals, power stations and other infrastructure.

A concrete and structures expert, Malhas is a co-author of what is believed to be the world's most widely used steel structures design textbook. He wants his students to understand their roles in building for population growth and related issues, like wastewater treatment.

"If you contribute positively to life-saving or life-altering events, it's very satisfying," Malhas said. "Today's engineers also need to rectify ecosystem disruptions by the past work of civil engineers. Our goal is to develop a curriculum so our students can keep up."

Malhas started North Florida's civil engineering department in 2000 and received national accreditation for it in three years.

Developing a bridge engineering educational program for local professionals and contributing to Ohio's Higher Education Transportation Consortium are among his initiatives at UD. The consortium's nine schools will conduct research, provide quality education to future transportation professionals, and disseminate state-of-the art knowledge and technology for use in transportation systems.

"Faris is an authority on prestressed concrete structures," Saliba said. "Most of all, he is a wonderful teacher and a genuine scholar."

Before North Florida, Malhas worked at Bradley University, the University of Bahrain and Jordan's Yarmouk University. He is a member of the American Concrete Institute, the American Institute of Steel Construction, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Engineering Education and the Prestressed Concrete Institute.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.