Written by: Nikki Alvin-Smith
Dr. Ahmed is noted as a scholar in the world of material science with several published papers to his credit, most with his name as lead author. While Dr. Ahmed is part of the EChem Consultants LLC team and works fulltime both inside and outside the office on a variety of projects for the company, he holds academia close to his heart.
It is clear from speaking to Dr. Ahmed that he has an altruistic nature, and is keen to make the world a better and safer place, and to share the knowledge of how to achieve that with others. A fact heralded by his earliest of projects as a qualified engineer in his birth country of Bangladesh through to his ongoing research and development initiatives.
Ahmed’s most recent collaborative published paper is the 2021, “ Ultrasonic coda wave monitoring of concrete structures: First experiences with large-scale experiments and real structures,” was authored by E. Niederleithinger, X. Wang, N. Epple, T. Schumacher, S. Ahmed, P. Klikowicz and has been published in the book “Bridge Maintenance, Safety, Management, Life Cycle Sustainability and Innovations.”
Echem Consultants LLC originally deployed this structure health monitoring system in the earliest reinforced concrete stadium in the United States.
How did this ardent engineer attain his training and what has motivated his journey to date. The cyclone of 2007 that wiped out housing for hundreds of residents in Bangladesh inspired Ahmed to go beyond the comfort of his office life. After a year behind the desk as a structural engineer, Ahmed took a year to work ‘hands-on’ in Kuakata, Barisal, Bangladesh. Here, he helped to rebuild 800 of the small houses that were lost in the cyclone, working for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
“ I simply felt I had to do something to help,” said Ahmed. “When I returned home after 3 or 4 months, my mother was very upset about how I looked. I was thin, sunburned and worn out. She was concerned about my health, but I insisted. I wanted to help people get their lives back. But I do admit the climate was brutal. Temperatures over 90 degrees F, humidity over 85 percent and the salty air by the Bay made work a struggle. But it taught me a lot, and most of all, it taught me I wanted to do more than sit behind a desk.”
“I was keen to work with a young enthusiastic Professor, so I headed to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and worked with Professor TzuYang Yu. Then went on to do my doctoral studies for my Ph.D. at the University of Delaware, where I worked under Dr. Thomas Schumacher and Dr. Erik Thostenson”
Ahmed’s research during his doctoral studies focused on working with Professor Thomas Schumacher and Erik Thostenson’s on projects using carbon nanotube-based composite materials to repair fatigue-damaged structures. The research work was evaluated by the FHWA during the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment.
“Professor Erik Thostenson had already put many years into the development of carbon nanotube-based sensing technology. While Dr. Thostenson’s focus was on the science behind the technology, my experiences to that point guided me toward figuring out how to develop the nanotube technology for wider applications on a much larger scale. I am grateful to the Federal Highway for the funding of our research and development that resulted in the application of the carbon nanotube-based composite repair and monitoring system on two bridges, one in Portland, OR and one in Wilmington, DE. Professor Thostenson, Schumacher, McConnell and I, with other team members, took the carbon nanotube-based technology for structural repair and monitoring system from idea to proof of concept to prototype to real life application.”
“The problem with the surveys and inspections of structures is that traditionally they have only been done visually. Once a stress crack is found in a steel member, the most common approach to address it is to drill a hole at tip of the crack to mitigate further cracking. Composite patches also can be externally bonded to the damaged member to provide additional reinforcement. But naturally not just the reinforcing via patching is important, but how it is bonded to the existing structural element is critical. Further, engineers also want to know what is happening underneath the repair patches.”
“Paul Noyce, our Technical Director is very forward thinking when it comes to non-destructive methods of technology that can be used to investigate the real condition of the components of a bridge, parking lot or tunnel wall. Subsurface conditions of the materials cannot be seen with the naked eye. EChem utilizes technology such as MASPAR units that I have helped Paul Noyce develop with our own software and customizations beyond what the manufacturer produced. Our work is very varied and no day is the same. I am always learning and I am very happy for this opportunity.”
Indeed, it is true that many buildings, bridges and other infrastructure does not marry and match to the design plans on record, and for some there are no original design plans available that the engineers can access. This is especially true with older structures.
Recent projects at EChem Consultants that Ahmed mentioned to demonstrate
the use of technology in durability evaluations and analysis, was the data collected by the team using the vertical customization of the MASPAR unit in a tunnel structure.
When questioned about the recent collapse of the Surfside apartment building in Florida, Ahmed was open in his comments:
Together with his wife Rifat, who is pursuing her own Ph.D. in Political Science, Ahmed has recently become a parent. So the legacy of building a bright future for the next generation is very much a part of what drives this scientist, and this author is certain he will attain his goal.
About Echem Consultants:Echem Consultants LLC is a material science consultancy whose primary focus is understanding material durability of the built environment. Through our Life 52® assessment approach [Laboratory, Inspection, Field Services, Engineered Design], we assist Architects, Engineers, and structure owners with long-term durability planning and predictive service life modeling for critical infrastructure 52 weeks a year. An additional advantage to employment of EChem Consultants is its ownership status as a certified women-owned business (WBE) and disadvantaged business (DBE) enterprise, thus fulfilling minority requirements for local, state, and federal contracts which have M/WBE or DBE set asides. Echem provides niche expertise in complex problem solving for critical infrastructure, landmark buildings, and new construction.
For more information, please contact Echem’s marketing department at 845-215-4370.