D. Bruce Nothdurft, P.E., P.G., F.ASCE, a professional geologist who for many years has trained at the cutting edge of disaster assessment and reconnaissance, has been named a Fellow by the ASCE Board of Direction.
Nothdurft’s early engineering career was shaped by two disasters – the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in 1981 and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. For one already serious about the potential consequences of engineering judgment, these strengthened his outlook that protecting the lives of others through his own actions and any opportunity to influence the actions of others amounted to more than just a moral duty, but for him became a divine appointment.
Nothdurft went to work at Law Engineering in Charlotte, NC. After meeting George Sowers, geotechnical engineering professor at Georgia Tech and chief corporate consultant for the firm, he knew that in order to be a really good geotechnical engineer, one should learn all that they could about geology. After getting his professional engineer license, he started working in the then-new geosynthetics field. He later started a consulting practice and obtained his MSCE analyzing the deformation behavior of heavily surcharged reinforced segmental block retaining walls. A couple of years later, he was invited to teach soil mechanics at East Carolina University, where he also took most of the geology courses required for a degree, becoming registered as a professional geologist.
Nothdurft’s conviction of a higher expectation, along with an ASCE-sponsored training opportunity, got him certified as disaster damage assessor in the State of California Safety Assessment Program. He also joined the South Carolina State Guard Engineering Command to help with pre- and postdisaster safety assessment, and recently has been training to participate with the new advanced disaster area reconnaissance teams.