Judgment and Decision-Making in Dam Engineering: On-Demand

Speaker: Irfan A. Alvi, P.E.

PDHs: This webinar is eligible for 2 PDH credits. 

Dam engineering involves dams, but is done by and for people. As a result, in order to achieve dam benefits while maintaining dam safety, we need to understand not just dams, but also the people involved in designing, constructing, operating, maintaining, and benefiting from them. Social scientists have been studying people scientifically for more than a century, and we are now at a point historically where the social sciences have generated valuable insights into human thought and behavior.

The aim of this webinar is to describe key socio-psychological insights and apply them to the practice of dam engineering, with an emphasis on judgment and decision-making. We will find that judgment and decision-making are influenced by aspects such as subconscious and conscious cognition, perception, belief, memory, self-concept, use of heuristics, cognitive and motivational biases, emotions, and group dynamics, and expertise, all of which contribute to both human capability and human fallibility.
This webinar will explore all of these aspects, will include extensive audience participation,  and will provide evidence-based suggestions for how we can improve our judgment and decision-making at both individual and group levels. The insights and suggestions presented in this webinar will be linked with the instructor's prior work on human factors to provide an overall framework for dam risk management. 

Four Learning Objectives of This Course:

• Understand the physical, social, and evolutionary context in which dam engineers operate
• Learn about the two main ways in which people “think”
• Learn about the socio-psychological factors which contribute to human fallibility and limitations, as well as human capabilities
• Learn ways to improve judgment, decision-making, and risk management in dam engineering

Irfan Alvi, P.E.

President & Chief Engineer

Alvi Associates, Inc.

Irfan A. Alvi, PE is the president & chief engineer of Alvi Associates, Inc. in Towson, Maryland. He has 35 years of multidisciplinary engineering experience for dams and other infrastructure, involving many hundreds of projects. His experience related to dams includes forensic investigation, human factors, new design, rehabilitation design, inspection, nondestructive testing, hydrologic/hydraulic analysis, structural analysis, stability analysis, risk analysis, and construction management. His project involving rehabilitation of Prettyboy Dam in Maryland was the ASDSO 2010 National Rehabilitation Project of the Year. He is a member of the ASDSO Dam Failure & Incidents Committee and the Public Safety Around Dams Committee. He has presented four ASDSO webinars related to human factors and judgment & decision-making. He served as the human factors lead on the independent forensic teams which investigated the 2017 spillways incident at Oroville Dam and the 2020 Edenville and Sanford Dam failures.

• Judgment and decision-making research
• Factors influencing judgement & decision-making
  o The human situation
  o Two kinds of thinking
  o Heuristics
  o Cognitive biases & expertise
  o Perception & belief
  o Memory
  o Emotions
  o Groups
  o Creativity
• Judgment
• Decision-making
• Risk management


Open to view video.
Open to view video.
Completion Quiz
10 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  3/10 points to pass  |  Graded as Pass/Fail
10 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  3/10 points to pass  |  Graded as Pass/Fail Choose the BEST answer for each question.
Completion Certificate
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available