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Sunder Named Chief of Structures Division

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced the appointment of S. Shyam Sunder as chief of the Structures Division in the Building and Fire Research Laboratory. In his new position, Sunder will oversee the development of measurements and standards for technologies supporting the structural safety and serviceability of buildings and infrastructure lifelines such as gas and electric utilities and offshore oil drilling and production platforms.

Under the federal government’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, the division’s work is aimed at improving standards and codes for buildings and lifelines as well as advancing seismic design practices. It provides technical leadership for NIST’s efforts in the Commerce Department’s five-year, $240 million Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative.

In addition, the Structures Division develops measurements and standards for technologies underpinning non-destructive evaluation of buildings and lifelines, construction site metrology and automation, wind and fire-resistant engineering, and the introduction of innovative materials such as high-performance concrete and fiber-reinforced polymer composites in new construction and in the repair and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

Members of the division staff participate in post-disaster investigation teams to assess the nature of structural damage and instances of successful performance, indications of whether construction is consistent with current codes and standards, and evidence indicating the need for research to improve those standards and codes.

The Structures Division plans and coordinates its activities with industry, academia, and federal and state agencies. The results provide designers and constructors with improved methods to predict and assess the resistance of buildings and lifelines to wind, seismic and fire loads, guidelines for strengthening existing structures and technologies to revise related standards and codes.

Sunder joined NIST in 1994 as manager of BFRL’s High-Performance Construction Materials and Systems Program. From June 1996 to December 1997, he was on assignment to the Office of the NIST Director, first as a program analyst and later as senior program analyst.

Prior to his joining NIST, Sunder held the positions of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, principal research scientist and senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1980 to 1994. He served as associate director of the Center for Scientific Excellence in Offshore Engineering at MIT from 1985 to 1993, and was appointed to the Executive Council of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1993.

Sunder’s research and professional interests include: performance of structural systems and materials, earthquake engineering, engineering design and construction, engineering computation and information technology, and technology deployment in construction. He has published 60 articles and 20 technical reports during his career.

Sunder is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the American Concrete Institute, the International Union of Testing and Research Laboratories for Materials and Structures, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on several technical committees and was on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Ocean Research (1986-92) and the steering committee for the 1995 ASCE Structures Congress. He also served on the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on Cooperation with the U.S.S.R. on Ice Mechanics (1991-92) and on the Naval Sea Systems Command’s six-member independent panel to evaluate the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Arctic Structures Program (1991-92).

Sunder’s awards include the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Chair (1985-87) and the Henry L. Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization (1987-89) from MIT, the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (1991) from ASCE, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Award (1997) from NIST.

Sunder graduated with honors with a bachelor of technology from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India. He earned his master of science in civil engineering and his doctor of science in structural engineering from MIT.

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released March 18, 1998, Updated November 27, 2017