James H. Garrett, Jr., Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, currently dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and a leading figure in computing in civil engineering, has been honored by ASCE with inclusion in its 2018 class of Distinguished Members for pioneering work in bringing advanced computing technologies into civil engineering and for continued academic and professional leadership in engineering and engineering education.
Garrett’s reputation is established nationally and internationally. He has made groundbreaking contributions to the development of computer-aided civil engineering, and was actively involved in the creation of the very first computer system, called ELRFD, for the AISC LRFD design code. He was a key team member evaluating the original CIMSteel product model subsequently adopted by AISC as the standard protocol for data exchange in the steel industry. That model has since evolved to what is now known as CIS (CIMSteel Integration Standards), which also serves as the basis for the development of current IFC (industry foundation classes) as part of BIM standards for project information of steel buildings.
Another pioneering work of Garrett’s is in the application of artificial intelligence in civil engineering. His research and consulting have led to the development of object-oriented software and expert systems for a broad range of civil engineering problems, including pavement design and diagnosis and bridge rating. While many have proposed the use of neural network in civil engineering, Garrett has applied the technology to practice.
His other notable contribution is in the integration of data analysis with sensor technologies for monitoring of buildings and civil infrastructure. Garrett’s research has found many practical applications—automated monitoring of HVAC systems, monitoring of train and rail systems, earthquake damage assessment, etc. His work has earned him and his colleagues several patents at Carnegie Mellon, ones that hold promise for the future enhancement of efficiency, safety, and sustainability in the built environment.
Garrett is also an outstanding teacher, educational administrator, and leader in professional service. He has advised more than 30 Ph.D. students and 17 master’s students. His service as a member of the College of Engineering’s Core Curriculum Review Committee helped lay down a new engineering curriculum plan that soon found itself a template for many other engineering schools. Garrett is a leader among engineering deans, serving as director of the Engineering Deans Executive Board and on the ABET Academic Advisory Council. To recognize his work fostering technology development in the Pittsburgh region, he was given the 2016 Metcalf Award, the most prestigious granted by the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania.
Professional affiliations include ASCE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow), and the American Society for Engineering Education, where he is the Engineering Deans Council Director. He is also on the Global Engineering Deans Council and serves as information technology chair of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers.
Garrett has published over 150 papers and reports, and is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Texas.