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Ettema Elected Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand

May 29, 2012
Man smiling
Rob Ettema was recently elected a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand.

University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Rob Ettema was recently elected a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), for his contribution to the advancement of practices in the field of bridge engineering.

Fellowships are bestowed upon engineers who have made a significant contribution to the profession or institution.

A New Zealand native, Ettema focuses on the design of bridges for river crossings. He says bridge washout during floods is the leading cause of bridge failures worldwide.

"Owing to its rugged terrain and relatively low population, New Zealand has more river-crossing bridges per capita than most countries," he says. "Consequently, the country spends a considerable amount of its transportation-infrastructure funds protecting and maintaining these structures."

Ettema is responsible for developing improved bridge design methods that are now being adopted as standard design procedures by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, similar agencies in New Zealand, and at additional locations around the globe. Most recently, he and a panel of engineers completed a state-of-the-art review of current bridge waterway design for the U.S. Transportation Research Board.

Research on bridge performance during floods continues today at the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science. Ettema, UW faculty colleagues and students have studied how bridge abutments and piers fail during flood flows. They have used special laboratory techniques to diagnose specifically what causes bridge failure during these periods of heavy water flow. These previously un-performed experiments are funded by the Mountain Plains Consortium, a transportation-research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Ettema came to UW in 2007. After earning undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Auckland, he joined the University of Iowa where, for eight years, he served as a department head. He also served a term as editor of the American Society of Civil Engineer's Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. Earlier, he had served as acting and associate director of the renowned Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research.

For additional information on the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand, visit

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