skip to main content


Opening Plenary

Saturday, November 5
8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Ashraf Habibullah, CSI

Ashraf Habibullah is a Structural Engineer and is President and CEO of Computers and Structures, Inc. He founded CSI in 1975.

Today, CSI is recognized globally as the pioneering leader in the development of software tools for structural and earthquake engineering.

The software is used by thousands of engineering firms in over 160 countries for the design of landmark projects such as the Freedom Tower in New York City, the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. Today the skyline of every major modern city in the world is defined by structures that have been designed using CSI software.

Ashraf also has a keen passion for the arts and social causes. He is co-founder of the critically acclaimed Diablo Ballet and the founder of the Engineer’s Alliance for the Arts, an organization that involves school children with technology, focusing on the artistic aspects of bridge engineering.

Ashraf regularly donates his money and his time as a speaker to support humanitarian organizations, hospitals, and educational institutions worldwide. Ashraf has donated software to thousands of universities to ensure that the technology necessary to produce seismically-sound structures reaches everyone.

Ashraf has a deep personal interest in the study of human psychology and human behavior and how they can be leveraged to help people from all walks of life reach their maximum potential.

Civil Engineering: Indispensable to Civilization

It is a fact that a civil engineering education is focused almost exclusively on technical topics with practically no exposure to human engineering. Could that be the reason why the professional fees and compensation for engineers do not even begin to reflect our immeasurable contributions to humanity? And why our profession is not even in the running for any high-profile recognition or prize, such as a Nobel?

Research conducted at the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering has suggested that only 15% of your financial success is attributed to your technical expertise. The other 85% is attributed to your skills in human engineering, i.e., your personality and your ability to deal effectively with people. And as strategic use of economic power translates into influence and recognition, perhaps a closer look at the need for an education involving human engineering is in order.

In this talk, Ashraf emphasizes the need for a human-engineering-based education. He convincingly demonstrates, with his usual enthusiasm and humor, why it is important to cultivate deep personal beliefs, develop public speaking skills and become familiar with the arts, human psychology, and human chemistry. These skills will enable young engineers to enter the professional world ready to lead, influence and inspire so that they can command the fees that are commensurate with their immeasurable contributions to society.  It is civil engineers, after all, who preserve the past and build the future, and without whom the progress of all of humanity would come to a screeching halt!

This is a presentation that will change your perspective—forever—on everything you thought you knew about our noble profession!

Sunday Plenary Session

Sunday, November 6
8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

Alastair Soane, CROSS

The Formation, Development, and Future of CROSS -

CROSS helps to make structures safer for the public and those who build and operate them. They do this by publishing safety information based on the confidential reports received and information in the public domain. There will be two sessions at the congress reviewing the work and ambitions of Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety (CROSS).

Speakers are from the CROSS international community and their topics range from the formation and development to the broad role of the system in learning from failures, specific case studies, lessons learned, and current and future actions to expand CROSS.

The system was initiated in the UK in 2005 for structural safety by the two leading professional structural and civil engineering institutions and has influenced culture amongst the construction community since then. Those involved include designers, checkers, regulators and builders as well as owners.

CROSS was later introduced to Australasia and the US to form the basis of a global network for sharing safety information and authors from each region will describe operations and the benefits obtained. The importance of the relationship between NIST failure and disaster studies and the CROSS system will be described. There will also be a review of disasters over recent years in the US and experiences from elsewhere, including Germany.

Following the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower when there were 72 deaths and many injuries the UK government supported the expansion of CROSS into fire safety and this was implemented in 2021. It has the same pattern of collecting safety information from practitioners and processing this for the benefit of the public and firefighters. Parallels will be drawn with fire safety processes in the US.

A vital part of learning is the influence on codes and standards as well as on best practice and the final paper in the CROSS series will deal with how this is being manifested in the US.

Closing Plenary

Monday, November 7
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Anna Denecke, ASCE

Anna Denecke is the Director of Infrastructure Initiatives at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In that role she oversees ASCE’s Infrastructure Report Card program, including the development of national and state grades. She also produces reports that examine best practices in infrastructure policy and the impacts of underinvestment in our roads, bridges, airports and more. Previously she worked as the policy and member communications manager for the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, an organization focused on increasing investment in America’s multimodal freight network. Anna also worked in political and nonprofit fundraising in the Los Angeles region. Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from the University of Southern California.

jump to top