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Engineers Comment On Report

April 30, 2005

Statement attributable to Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E., Team Leader of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) World Trade Center Building Performance Study Team:

The findings released recently by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) bring us closer to a conclusive understanding of the structural response of the World Trade Center Towers to the plane crashes and subsequent fires that eventually led to their collapse. Results of the NIST team’s extensive study are in close agreement with the findings of the ASCE/FEMA team that conducted the initial assessment in the months immediately following September 11th. The broader scope and more comprehensive detail of the NIST study will help engineers better understand the performance of tall structures when subjected to unanticipated extreme forces.

Even though we all hope that such extreme events can be prevented in the future, there are many lessons that we can learn from this tragedy. I expect that the engineers responsible for the design of tall buildings, as well as the occupants of those buildings, will have renewed confidence in building safety.

Statement attributable to Jeremy Isenberg, Ph.D., P.E., President, Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of ASCE:

We applaud NIST for the thoroughness and openness of its process, which recognizes the urgent needs of the victims’ families, the professional community and the public to understand what happened.

Catastrophic events like the collapse of the Twin Towers are rare, and the knowledge that engineers gain from them is essential. Through detailed study, analysis, debate and discussion, we both validate long-time practices and, on occasion, change long-held beliefs. NIST has done an important public service by conducting a comprehensive effort to study and analyze the collapse. On behalf of the profession, SEI is eager to begin the process of reviewing, discussing and debating the contents of this extensive report in our ongoing efforts to advance the safety and performance of buildings and other structures.

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