Carnegie Mellon University

CMU Provost James H. Garrett, Jr., photographed prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

September 16, 2020

Provost Garrett Elected to National Academy of Construction

Provost and Chief Academic Officer for Carnegie Mellon University, James H. Garrett, Jr., the Thomas Lord Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and co-director of the Pennsylvania Smart Infrastructure Institute, has been selected for membership into the National Academy of Construction (NAC).

Election to the NAC is conferred to individuals who have made significant contributions to the effectiveness of the engineering and construction industry over a period of multiple years. Members are recognized as industry leaders by their peers and selection to the NAC is typically not the first highly esteemed national honor for inductees.

Garrett was, in fact, awarded the title of Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2018, the highest honor available to civil engineers.

The NAC brings together exceptional leaders from throughout the spectrum of industry stakeholders, from designers, construction managers, contractors, attorneys, labor leaders and even journalists. The organization works to share diverse expertise and proven leadership as a service to the nation.

A member of the CMU faculty since 1990, Garrett became dean of the College of Engineering in 2013. Immediately prior to that, he spent six years as head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. His research career has focused on sensors and data analytics as tools to make our cities more adaptive and efficient.

Garrett's approach to research aims to give built infrastructure the ability to detect and report problems directly to the humans charged with maintaining those structures, allowing for more proactive and cost-effective infrastructure management.

"Provost Garrett's acceptance into the National Academy of Construction is well deserved and acknowledges his pioneering work in bringing sensing technology and artificial intelligence into civil engineering applications and management," said Bill Sanders, dean of the College of Engineering.

Garrett is recognized as an international leader in computing applications for civil engineering, and his work at CMU spans multiple disciplines and departments, including the Robotics Institute and the Engineering and Public Policy Institute. He also created a novel graduate program in Advanced Infrastructure Systems that has become a national model for civil and environmental engineering departments.

In selecting Garrett for membership in the NAC, the organization notes his role in increasing productivity in the construction industry, as automation and the integration of information technology systems becomes more wide spread. 

"Jim Garrett has made significant contributions in bringing advances in computing, information technology, artificial intelligence, and sensing into infrastructure and construction engineering and management," says Dave Dzombak, Hamerschlag University Professor and head of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  "The CEE community congratulates Provost Garrett on his election to the National Academy of Construction, and expresses our pride in having him as an alum and as a member of our faculty."

A recent example of his work is his seminal development and demonstration of the use of accelerometer data from vehicles for detection of structural damage in bridges and rail track. He has created the engineering codes and standards for use in checking designs for conformance and in generating code-compliant designs of structural components.  

Garrett will be formally inducted at the NAC's 2020 Member Annual Meeting, which will be held virtually on October 29.


Originally published in The Piper: Campus & Community News