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AASHTO committee outlines essential requirements for fabrication certification programs

CHICAGO —The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO’s) Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures, at its recent 2009 Annual Meeting, passed a resolution endorsing national technical institute certification programs as meeting the essential requirements for certification of personnel, production, and other quality processes related to fabricated structural bridge components. Technical institutes, according to the resolution, “develop consensus standards for their industries; sponsor relevant research; draw upon and energize established technical committees; publish technical training, design, and standards manuals; have staff positions held by engineers and subject experts; and qualify and monitor their third-party independent auditors who are trained to provide critical assessment and bring consistency to their work.”

“This action clearly throws AASHTO’s weight behind certification programs established by the national technical institutes,” said James G. Toscas, P.E., president of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI). “It recognizes that a national technical institute is uniquely qualified to develop and deliver certification programs in its specific industry.”

“The AASHTO Bridge Subcommittee understands that a program under the auspices of a national technical institute best assures state-of-the-art quality certification,” commented Roger E. Ferch, National Steel Bridge Alliance executive director. Furthermore, it can be uniformly applied in all jurisdictions, which leads to an economy of scale that benefits both the industry and the owner.”

The resolution notes that AASHTO bridge design and rating specifications are developed and calibrated to levels of reliability and quality inherent in the certification programs provided by national technical institutes.

PCI /AISC quality systems white paper
PCI and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) have jointly prepared a “Quality Systems White Paper” describing in detail the essential requirements highlighted in the AASHTO resolution.

PCI and AISC believe that, to be effective, a certification program must be part of a complete quality system with broad industry involvement, well-established collaborative relationships, and forums for information exchange. National technical institutes like PCI and AISC conduct practical research, develop consensus-driven standards and specifications, identify best practices, sustain a diverse knowledge base, and drive continuous improvement – all necessary elements in an effective quality certification program.

To access the AASHTO resolution, visit www.pci.org or www.steelbridges.org/AASHTOResolution and click on “Quality Systems.” The AISC/PCI Quality Systems White Paper is available at www.steelbridges.org and www.pci.org. To learn more about PCI Quality Assurance Programs and Certification, visit www.pci.org or contact Dean Frank, P.E., PCI director of quality programs, at 312-583-6770 or dfrank@pci.org. For information regarding AISC certification, contact Brian Raff at 312-670-7527 or raff@aisc.org. For steel bridge information, contact Bill McEleney, National Steel Bridge Alliance director, at 401-943-5660 or mceleney@steelbridges.org, and for information on prestressed concrete bridges, contact William Nickas, P.E., PCI director of transportation systems, at 312-583-6776 or wnickas@pci.org.