University President to Assist Gulf Spill Investigation
National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council to Assess Causes of Explosion and Recommend Prevention Measures

The National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council have appointed UT Dallas President David E. Daniel to a committee investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The president, who is a member of the Academy, will be part of a group charged with conducting a technical analysis of the accident’s causes and recommending measures to prevent similar disasters in the future.

Daniel’s work has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which awarded him its highest honor for papers published in its journals (the Norman Medal), and on two separate occasions awarded him its second-highest honor, the Croes Medal. In 2005 through 2008, Daniel served as Chair of the External Review Panel of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which reviewed the facts surrounding the performance of New Orleans’ levees during Hurricane Katrina.

In June, the U.S. Department of the Interior asked the Academy and the Research Council to undertake the Gulf spill analysis to complement and inform investigations of the oil spill by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and a presidential commission.

Dr. Donald C. Winter, former secretary of the navy, and a professor of engineering practice at the University of Michigan, will lead the committee.

“We’re pleased that Dr. Winter and these distinguished experts have volunteered to participate in this important national effort,” said Charles M. Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering, and vice chair of the National Research Council.  

The committee will provide independent analysis and work closely with the other formal investigations to ensure that critical information each collects is shared.  Specifically, the committee will examine information gathered on the performance of the technologies and practices involved in the disaster.  It will recommend technologies, practices, and standards with the goal of preventing similar accidents related to oil and gas deepwater exploratory drilling and well completion.    

The full committee will hold its first meeting in late July or early August and plans to hold public sessions in the Gulf Coast region.  An interim letter report, scheduled for release by Oct. 31, will contain preliminary findings and recommendations to be considered together with other initial investigations of the oil spill.  A final report will follow in 2011.

The full statement of task and biographies of committee members are available on the National Academies website.

The committee members named to date include:

  • Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, Doherty Professor of Ocean Science and Engineering,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Rear Admiral Thomas J. Eccles, chief engineer and deputy commander for naval systems engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command, U.S. Navy.
  • Roger L. McCarthy, private engineering consultant and member of the National Academy of Engineering.  
  • Najmedin Meshkati, professor of engineering, University of Southern California
  • M. Elisabeth Pate-Cornell, Burt and Deedee McMurtry Professor and chair of the department of management science and engineering, Stanford University, and member of the National Academy of Engineering.   
  • Jocelyn E. Scott, chief engineer and vice president, DuPont. 
  • Mark D. Zoback, Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University.

Dr. David E. Daniel's work  has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].