/ Awards / Robert J. Connor Named as Recipient of 2020 Richard S. Fountain Award

Robert J. Connor Named as Recipient of 2020 Richard S. Fountain Award

Parul Dubey on February 11, 2020 - in Awards, News, People

Robert J. Connor receives the 2020 Richard S. Fountain Award. Pictured from left to right: Ronnie Medlock, High Steel Structures LLC; Chris Garrell, National Steel Bridge Alliance; Robert Connor, Purdue University; Mike Grubb, M.A. Grubb & Associates LLC; and Tom Macioce, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Photo by Dan Snyder, AISI.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Steel Bridge Task Force of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI); the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA); and the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) T-14 Technical Committee for Structural Steel Design have named Robert J. Connor, the Jack and Kay Hockema Professor in Civil Engineering at Purdue University’s Lyles School of Engineering, as the recipient of the 2020 Richard S. Fountain Award.

Named for the founder of the Steel Bridge Task Force, the Richard S. Fountain Award was established in 2001 to recognize leadership in steel bridge research and outstanding efforts to advance AASHTO specifications. Dr. Connor received the award at the meeting of the AISI Steel Bridge Task Force on January 30, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. The award was presented by Michael Grubb of M.A. Grubb & Associates, who is also the first winner of the Richard S. Fountain Award; Ronnie Medlock of High Steel Structures, who is also chairman of the AISI Steel Bridge Task Force Oversight Council; Tom Macioce of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, who is also chairman of the AASHTO T-14 Committee; Chris Garrell from NSBA; and Dan Snyder from AISI. 

“Dr. Connor is a nationally recognized expert on fatigue and fracture whose work has contributed substantially to advancing steel bridge design in those areas,” said Robert Wills, vice president of AISI’s construction market program. “He has been instrumental in the development of new guide specifications and provisions that are helping engineers at state Departments of Transportation in their analysis and inspection of the nation’s steel bridges.” 

Dr. Connor is director of the Center for Aging Infrastructure (CAI) and the S-BRITE (Steel Bridge Research, Inspection, Training and Engineering) Center at Purdue University, which explores partnership opportunities in training and research to successfully maintain the existing steel bridge inventory. His work includes:

  • The development of two new guide specifications on system analysis to evaluate redundancy and to evaluate the internal redundancy of built-up steel members, which should help to eliminate the Fracture Critical Member (FCM) designation on a large number of new and existing bridges;
  • The development of a helpful guide on repair and retrofit of fatigue cracking due to load-induced fatigue and distortion-induced fatigue;
  • New specification provisions related to the fatigue-life enhancement resulting from 20-kHz ultrasonic impact treatment;
  • New specification provisions to enhance the fatigue category for the base metal at the net section of larger open holes centered on steel plates;
  • The improvement of the fatigue detail table in the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications; and
  • The introduction of two new detail tables in the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications to help reduce conditions susceptible to constraint-induced fracture.


Dr. Connor has received several steel industry and academic awards, including the first Robert J. Dexter Memorial Lecture Award presented by AISI in August 2005. He is the author or coauthor of several industry publications. He received his BSCE degree from Drexel University and his MSCE and PhD degrees from Lehigh University.


AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI’s membership is comprised of integrated and electric arc furnace steelmakers, and associate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. For more news about steel and its applications, view AISI’s website at www.steel.org or www.buildusingsteel.org. Follow AISI on Facebook or Twitter (@AISISteel), (@BuildUsingSteel).

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