Notre Dame Engineering Faculty Named Winners of Zollman Award

Yahya Kurama, professor and associate chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, and Brian Smith, assistant teaching professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, have been named recipients of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s Charles C. Zollman Award for 2015. The award recognizes that paper published in the PCI Journal that is most “worthy of special commendation for its merit as a contribution in advancing the state-of-the-art of precast and prestressed concrete.” A formal presentation will be made during the 2015 PCI Fall Committee Days and Membership Conference in Louisville, Ky., in October.


The paper, titled “Seismic Design Guidelines for Solid and Perforated Hybrid Precast Concrete Shear Walls,” proposes seismic design and detailing guidelines supporting code approval of special unbonded posttensioned hybrid precast concrete shear walls for use in moderate and high seismic regions of the U.S. The specific recommendations allow practicing engineers and precast concrete producers to design American Concrete Institute (ACI) compliant special hybrid precast concrete shear walls with predictable, reliable, and improved seismic performance.

Kurama’s research interests include the behavior and design of building structures as they respond to earthquakes, seismic risk assessment of historical unreinforced masonry, use of recycled materials for increased sustainability of concrete structures, behavior and design of reinforced concrete buildings under extreme fire exposure, and design of nuclear reinforced concrete structures with reduced field construction times and fabrication costs.

In addition to his duties within the department and classroom, Kurama is a licensed professional engineer and is a member of the PCI, ACI, and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He has served as a faculty fellow of the Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning at Notre Dame and is a member of the PCI Student Education and Seismic committees; ACI committees on Performance-Based Seismic Design of Concrete Buildings and Concrete with Recycled Materials; and Joint ACI/ASCE Committee on Precast Concrete Structures. He currently serves as an associate editor for the ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering.

A faculty member since 1998, Kurama was a recipient of the PCI Distinguished Educator Award in 2014, the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Notre Dame in 2013 and 2008, the ASCE State-of-the-Art of Civil Engineering Award in 2012, the PCI Central Region University Professor of the Year Award in 2012, and the PCI Young Educator Achievement Award in 2005. He was co-recipient of the ASCE T.Y. Lin Award in 2003 and the PCI Martin P. Korn Award in 2002. He also received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1998.

Brian Smith

Smith’s primary research interests include concrete structures, innovative structural systems, earthquake engineering, and retrofitting/rehabilitation of existing structures. In addition to courses in the College of Engineering, Smith also teaches structural design courses in the School of Architecture.

Smith is a member of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), ASCE, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), and PCI. He was part of the design and construction administration team that received the AISC Presidential Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering in 2008 and the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) Certificate for Best Retrofit/Alteration in 2007 for the State Bar Building of California in San Francisco, Calif. He has also been awarded various fellowships for teaching and research, including the PCI Annual Convention and Exhibition Travel Fellowship and the Notre Dame First-Year Engineering Teaching Apprentice Program (FYETAP) Fellowship, both in 2011.

A graduate of Notre Dame, Smith is a licensed professional engineer. He joined the department faculty in 2012, having previously served as an associate engineer at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., and a project engineer at Madsen, Kneppers, and Associates, Inc., working on projects such as the I-880/I-80 overpass bridge collapse in Oakland, Calif., and the seismic evaluation of U.S. Embassy residential facilities in Istanbul, Turkey.

For more information about their work in hybrid precast wall systems for seismic regions, visit

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Originally published by Nina Welding at on September 01, 2015.