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[Live Webinar] Engineering Ethics: The Collapse of the FIU Pedestrian Bridge. Design & Ethical Failures

Intended Audience: All Engineers
Credits: 2 PDH Units
When: Wednesday 3/17. 2 – 4 pm ET


This Engineering Ethics Webinar on the tragic collapse of the FIU Pedestrian Bridge. In the first part of this Ethics Webinar, we discuss the engineering aspects of design, construction, and the damage in the form of cracks in the post-tensioned concrete truss of the main span before it collapsed on March 15, 2018. Dr. Astaneh then presents the design errors made by FIGG Bridge Engineers that violated the provisions of the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications. The collapsed main-span truss used an Accelerated Bridge Construction plan never before done. Dr. Astaneh will show how the designers had failed to check the adequacy of main-span truss during all stages of a complex Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC). Added to very serious design errors, and lack of adequate stress analysis during various phases of the construction, was the inadequate peer-review done by Luis Berger.

The second part of the webinar focuses on engineering ethics, with emphasis on the Fundamental Canon 1 of the “Code of Ethics for Engineers” which states: Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public. With so many design errors and the lack of adequate peer review, the collapse of the main span was inevitable. But, could the loss of six lives and injury to 10 others be avoided? The answer is yes if only the engineers involved, had followed the Fundamental Cannon 1 and considered public safety above other considerations.  Dr. Astaneh will take the attendants through the events from mid-February, when the first cracks were observed, until March 15, when the tragic collapse occurred and show how almost everyone involved ignored the clear signs of structure failing without thinking of safety of public who were driving under the collapsed bridge or the workers working on it.

Professor Astaneh has spent more than 2,000 hours studying and investigating the collapse of the FIU Bridge; first as the lead member of an expert team in a judiciary proceedings and since then doing the investigation of the case to bring lessons learned from this tragedy, especially the ethical issues, to the bridge engineering community to help all of us engineers to keep public safety, health and welfare paramount in all of our engineering activities. Dr. Astaneh has more than 52 years of experience in design, construction, research, teaching and failure analysis of steel, composite, concrete and timber building and bridge structures. He is a licensed P. E. in California, the recipient of the 1998 AISC T. R. Higgins Lectureship Award, and is a UC Berkeley College of Engineering 2013 Minner Faculty Fellow on Engineering Ethics and Professional/Social Responsibility.

Date:  Wednesday. March 17. 2021.  Starts: 2 – 4 pm ET
Credits: 2 PDH Units

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the Webinar, the student should understand

  • Main types of Pedestrian/bike bridges, design loads and design provisions for their design.
  • The structural system used in the FIU Pedestrian bridge
  • The “Accelerated Bridge Construction” as it was applied to the collapsed main span of the FIU Bridge.
  • The “Joint Venture” design/construction team of the FIU Bridge
  • The “Peer Review” process for pedestrian/bike bridges, and the role of Peer Reviewer in the FIU Bridge.
  • What was the mechanism of failure that led to the collapse of the FIU Bridge?
  • What were the reasons for the mechanism of failure to occur?
  • Why the catastrophic collapse could be prevented at the design, peer review, construction, or inspection stages?
  • The role of lack of proper and independent “Peer-review” in the tragic collapse.
  • The role of lack of proper oversight in the tragic collapse.
  • The shortcomings of the bridge design specifications in emphasizing redundancy in concrete bridges.
  • Why several violations of the “Engineering Code of Ethics for Engineers” resulted in  tragic loss of lives of six people and injuries to 10 others.
  • Why by simply following the “Code of Ethics for Engineers”, and considering “Safety is Paramount”, the tragic collapse could be avoided.
  • What are the “legal” and “ethical” responsibilities of engineers to “hold safety paramount?”
  • How “group think” can blind engineers to “hold safety paramount.”
  • How “willful or intentional blindness” of engineers can create safety-related disasters.

References and Recommended Further Readings:

  1. AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, 7th Ed. With 2015 Interim Revisions. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington DC.
  2. ASCE– 2020 Code of Ethics-The American Society of Civil Engineers, https://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/About_ASCE/Ethics/Content_Pieces/asce-coe-oct-2020.pdf
  3. Concepts and Cases-Engineering Ethics, a textbook by Charles E. Harris et al., published by Cengage2019. (Amazon page)
  4. Ethics, Technology, and Engineering, a textbook by Ibo van de Poel and Lambèr Royakkers, Wily-Blackwell, 2011. (Amazon page)
  5. Florida International University Pedestrian Bridge Collapse Investigation: Assessment of Bridge Design and Performance, prepared for the NTSB by the Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC. https://dms.ntsb.gov/public/62500-62999/62821/628659.pdf
  6. Investigation of March 15, 2018 pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University, Miami, FL. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/2019-12/2019_r_03.pdf
  7. NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers. National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).  https://www.nspe.org/sites/default/files/resources/pdfs/Ethics/CodeofEthics/NSPECodeofEthicsforEngineers.pdf
  8. NSPE Ethics Reference Guide (PDF)
  9. Pedestrian Bridge Collapse Over S.W. 8th Street Miami, Florida, March 15, 2018, Accident Report NTSB/HAR-19/02 PB2019-101363, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC. https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/HAR1902.pdf.
  10. Prestressed Concrete Analysis and Design-Fundamental, 2nd Edition, by  Antoine E. Naaman, 2004.,  Techno-Press 3000, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105, USA.
  11.  Reinforced Concrete, Mechanics and Design, 7th Ed., by James K. Wight, 2016, Pearson Education Limited.
  12. RFC superstructure plan. Miami: FIU (Florida International University). http://facilities.fiu.edu/projects/BT_904/PRR/PlanFiles.zip.
  13. Time-lapse videos. BT-904 University City prosperity project PRR webpage (online archive) of FIU (Florida International University).  http://facilities.fiu.edu/projects/BT_904/PRR/time_lapse_videos.zip
  14. University City prosperity project pedestrian bridge: Superstructure, final design calculations. Miami: FIU (Florida International University).  http://facilities.fiu.edu/projects/BT_904/PRR/Calculations.zip.

Special Webinar Instructions

After payment, please visit this webinar page, click “Start Course” and fill out the Webinar Registration Form.  You’ll receive email notification and details on how to join the webinar.  You will then be able to access the webinar slides, test your system and receive webinar reminders.  After completing the webinar requirements, your certificate of completion will be saved and available for download in your profile.

We value your feedback! Please rate this webinar after completion.

Group Discounts Available

Course Reviews


13 ratings
  • 5 stars6
  • 4 stars5
  • 3 stars1
  • 2 stars0
  • 1 stars1
  1. Neutral Comments


    interesting content, good presentation

  2. Good ethics training and interesting case study


    Interesting case study, but a little hard to follow for me as a non-civil engineer because there was quite a presumption about the level of knowledge one should have regarding bridge design and other structures made of steel and concrete.

  3. 1

    For a course on ethics, there was an awful lot of judgement passed based on speculation and opinion with very little substantive information and inadequate knowledge pertaining to the specific events.

  4. Exceptional documentation


    I really enjoyed this course, felt that the instructor presented it very well, and was mostly impressed with the amount of work and documentation that went into the slide material.

  5. 5

    Very informative, and increbible how many engineers failed the process

  6. Recommended


    A very good thought-provoking course for engineers. Well presented. Very thoughtful content.

  7. Participant Review


    Instructor was knowledgeable of the subject.

  8. 4

    Class is very good, but should have been more a 3 or 4 hours duration due to the many facets of this event.

  9. engineering ethics collapse of FIU bridge


    Very thorough coverage of the topic. The instructor has thoroughly researched the subject.

  10. Informative look at a chain of failures


    The instructor did a very good job of illustrating how a lacking peer review and some apparent intentional attempts at “saving face” by the EOR firm led to the tragedy.

  11. Good Presentation


    Very good summary of the bridge failure.

  12. 4

    Only suggestion is to keep it within the time. The topic is obviously pertinent and very interesting – spoken about with great knowledge.

  13. Engineering Ethics: The Collapse of the FIU Pedestrian Bridge. Design & Ethical Failures


    Presenter is very knowledgeable on the topic and spoke very candidly on the issues at hand.


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