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Podcast Interviews

    To commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11th, the American Society of Civil Engineers has gathered a group of esteemed civil engineers to share how their professional backgrounds forever connected each of them to the attacks on the World Trade Center. In an effort to show how the events of 9/11 affected generations of civil engineers, ASCE has sought the insights of those individuals who worked on the original buildings, the federal investigations following the attack, as well as the individuals working on the reconstruction project.

    To listen to interview segments by question, visit the Podcast Questions page.

    The views, opinions, conclusions and other information expressed in the following interviews are those of the individual speakers, are not given or endorsed by the employers of the individual speakers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of or the American Society of Civil Engineers.   

    W. Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., Dist.M.ASCE, NAE 

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    Corley, W. Gene
    Professional civil engineer, Dr. W. Gene Corley, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., Dist.M.ASCE, NAE, is one of the world’s foremost experts in analyzing buildings damaged by bombs, earthquakes, fire and tornadoes. He led the federal investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Other investigative experience includes the 1995 bombing and collapse of part of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and he also served as an engineering expert during the investigation of the 1993 fatal fire at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

    As CTL Group’s Senior Vice President, Dr. Corley serves as managing agent for professional and structural engineering, and leads structural evaluation projects related to industrial, transportation facilities, parking facilities, bridges, and buildings. He has published over 170 papers and books, including more than 90 on bridge design and/or seismic design.   

    Robert M. D'Onofrio, P.E.  

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    Donofrio, Rob  Professional civil engineer Robert M. D'Onofrio, P.E., M.ASCE, is one of the individuals currently working on the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Mr. D’Onofrio is a Project Manager at URS Corporation. He holds BS and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from Cornell University. Mr. D’Onofrio is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York and Pennsylvania.

    In addition to his work at the World Trade Center site, Mr. D’Onofrio is Vice Governor of ASCE’s Construction Institute Younger Member Directorate, a member of ASCE’s Committee for Professional Practice, and a member of ASCE’s Construction Institute Claims Avoidance and Resolution Committee. As a volunteer mentor in the ACE mentoring program, Mr. D’Onofrio works with high school students interested in architecture, construction, and engineering. 

    Francis J. Lombardi, P.E., Dist. M.ASCE, F. SAME  

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    Lombardi, Francis 


    Professional civil engineer and distinguished ASCE member, Francis J. Lombardi, P.E., Dist. M. ASCE, F.SAME, is the former Chief Engineer of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the position he held from 1995 until his retirement in 2010.

    Immediately following the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Lombardi played a prominent role as part of the crisis management team of Port Authority executives that was assembled to ensure the well-being of staff and to tackle the difficult challenges facing the agency. He was charged with overseeing the massive project to restore PATH service to Exchange Place and lower Manhattan. Under his direction, PATH service was successfully restored in November of 2003. Frank also was assistant chief engineer from 1991 to 1995 during the time of the first bombing attempt. He also was manager of Design for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    Today, Mr. Lombardi is an Industry Professor at New York University-Polytechnic Institute, where he has taught engineering courses since 2005. 

    Leslie E. Robertson, P.E., C.E., S.E., D.Sc., D.Eng., Dist. M.ASCE, NAE, AIJ, JSCA, AGIR, Chartered Structural Engineer (U. K. and Ireland), First Class Architect and Engineer, Japan  

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    Robertson, Leslie





    Professional civil engineer, ASCE distinguished member, and ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders Award recipient, Leslie E. Robertson, P.E., S.E., Dist. M.ASCE, along with multiple internationally recognized engineering credentials, developed the structural designs for the World Trade Center. Mr. Robertson’s structural engineering contributions to the original World Trade Center include the creation of mechanical damping units to reduce wind-induced swaying motion, the first use of prefabricated multiple-column and spandrel-wall panels to resist the lateral force from hurricane winds, the first use of a space-frame mega-structure and outrigger or hat system for a high-rise building, and the creation of the shaft-wall partition system now almost universally used for fire-resistive partitions in high-rise building.

    In addition to the World Trade Center, Mr. Robertson developed structural design for the U. S. Steel Headquarters in Pittsburgh, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, the Shanghai World Financial Center and many more. Currently, Mr. Robertson is directing the structural design for the Jamsil Lotte Super Tower in Seoul, Korea, the Richard Serra sculpture in Doha, Qatar, and the KL 100 Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His contributions to the profession also include the development of the world’s first skyscraper with a composite mega-structure space frame to resist all loads imposed by typhoon winds and the weight of the building and he has authored more than 700 technical papers.

    A Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Mr. Robertson has received numerous honors for his professional and civic contributions. 

    S. Shyam Sunder, Sc.D.  

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    Sunder, Shyam 



    S. Shyam Sunder, Sc.D., a recipient of ASCE’s Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, provided leadership and execution for the official Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The investigation conclusively demonstrated both the why and the how of the building collapses and the associated occupant evacuation and emergency response. Dr. Sunder’s strategic and operational leadership resulted in findings that have revolutionized how building collapses are investigated and established the United States at the forefront of the underpinning science and engineering disciplines. Based on recommendations from the investigation, Dr. Sunder led a partnership with private sector experts and the Nation’s building officials to implement a comprehensive and far reaching set of critically needed improvements to building and fire codes that will make America’s buildings, their occupants, and emergency responders safer in future disasters.

    Currently, Dr. Sunder is the Director of the Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Engineering Laboratory is the primary federal laboratory serving the U.S. manufacturing and construction industries.