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Oral History Series Vol. 17 Robert V. Whitman

This oral history covers the pioneering career of Robert V. Whitman, a long-time professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Besides being a teacher and researcher, Whitman had a vast consulting experience, which came through in his teaching. The book deals with the development of some of the most important areas within earthquake engineering, as Whitman’s technical and policy contributions lie at the foundations of much that is now the state of knowledge and state of practice in risk assessment and mitigation. His participation was crucial in developing methods for the study of dynamic soil-structure interactions for analysis of nuclear power plants and earth retaining structures during earthquakes. The field of soil dynamics was just getting into high gear early in his career, when the study of liquefaction and earthquake-induced ground failures burst onto the scene following the 1964 Alaska and Niigata earthquakes. He was in the thick of liquefaction controversies in those years. The 1969 Lambe and Whitman book, Soil Mechanics, has become a classic. Whitman chaired the National Research Council committee that produced the 1985 report, Liquefaction of Soils during Earthquakes, which has guided practice for more than 20 years. He played a key role in the development of the Applied Technology Council’s Tentative Provisions for the Development of Seismic Regulations for Buildings, which for the first time provided national maps for earthquake shaking hazard. He was a leader in the early studies of risk-based geotechnical engineering and in the development of seismic codes. He first chaired the NRC panel that proposed a loss estimation methodology, and then the committee that developed HAZUS (Hazard US). 2010, 123 pages, ISBN 978-1-932884-44-9

This Oral History is also available as a Free PDF.
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The intent of the EERI oral history project is to publish a series of interviews with prominent figures in the field of earthquake engineering to preserve some of the rich history of those who have pioneered in shaping seismic design theory and practice.

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