Home Tech News NIST Engineer Glenn Bell Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

NIST Engineer Glenn Bell Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

NIST Engineer Glenn Bell Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Glenn Bell

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Glenn Bell, a structural engineer at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Election to the academy, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers, recognizes outstanding contributions in engineering research, innovation and leadership.  

“Glenn Bell’s outstanding contributions to the field of structural engineering have led to improved building standards and practices in the U.S. and around the world,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. “Through his dedication, hard work and collaborative efforts, he has made our built environment safer and saved lives.”  

Prior to working at NIST, Bell was the CEO of the engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. During his 45 years at that firm, he helped design innovative buildings like Spaceship Earth, the 55-meter (180-foot) geodesic sphere at Walt Disney World, and the Santiago Bahá’í Temple, a dome made from free-flowing petals of marble, steel and glass. 

In 1981, Bell investigated the tragic collapse of two walkways at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. That disaster had a profound effect on Bell, who resolved to do what he could to ensure that engineering tragedies don’t happen twice. He began to specialize in forensic engineering — the study of structural failures.  

From there, Bell went on to investigate some of the most consequential building collapses in recent history, including the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. When NIST began its investigation into the partial collapse of the Champlain Tower South condominium in Surfside, Florida, in 2021, he came out of retirement to serve as associate lead for the investigation. NIST plans to release its report on that investigation in 2025.

Bell has worked tirelessly to share what he’s learned from studying structural failures with the engineering community and, through his leadership, has encouraged others to similarly share their knowledge. In 1985, he co-founded the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Technical Council on Forensic Engineering, now the ASCE Forensic Engineering Division. In 2019, he helped found Collaborative Reporting for Safer Structures US, a group that makes it easier for construction professionals to confidentially report safety concerns. 

Bell earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Tufts University and an M.S. in structural engineering and structural mechanics from the University of California at Berkeley. He has received numerous other engineering awards, including the ASCE President’s Award, the ASCE Forensic Engineering Award, and the Institution of Structural Engineers’ Keith Eaton International Award. 

Originally published at https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2024/02/nist-engineer-glenn-bell-elected-national-academy-engineering

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