Robert Bea: Dr. Disaster

Robert BeaCEE professor emeritus Robert Bea. (Photo by James Cheadle)Berkeley Engineering 150Robert Bea has been called the Master of Disaster. This professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering studies failures – both engineering and human – in hopes we can learn from them. Think Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Katrina and the space shuttle Columbia. At 81, he has retired from teaching, but he remains keyed in to current risks. He has been monitoring the fragile 1,100-mile levee system in the California Delta, which funnels drinking water to 25 million Californians, and he has spoken out about the risks of catastrophic failure posed by cracks in the Oroville Dam spillway.

Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, has garnered multiple awards throughout his career in the fields of civil and ocean engineering. For his work in helping the people of Louisiana after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which spilled more than 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Bea was recognized by the U.S. Senate.

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