The Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center in Chicago are two of the impressive structures designed by Fazlur Rahman Khan (1929-1982).

Lehigh has endowed a Khan Chair in structural engineering and architecture and appointed Dan M. Frangopol, an expert in structural reliability and optimization, as its first holder.

Frangopol, formerly of the University of Colorado at Boulder, will set up new programs in life-cycle engineering and in the maintenance and management of structures.

Life-cycle engineering, he says, optimizes the investment made in structures by considering conflicting objectives over a specified time. It employs probability and statistics to account for the changes structures undergo, and it helps engineers select the solution that best balances performance enhancement and cost reduction.

“A structure should be planned and built for a life cycle of 50 to 100 years, or more,” says Frangopol. “From the beginning, you should estimate how much money you need to spend to optimize the cost of maintaining structures over their lifetime.

“As our civil infrastructure systems continue to grow more complex, we need to use an integrated approach to understand the effects of technological, environmental, economical, social and political interactions on the life-cycle performance of systems.”

Frangopol is founding president of the International Association for Bridge Maintenance and Safety, chair of the executive board of the International Association for Structural Safety and Reliability, and vice president of the International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure.