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

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 President & Chief Engineer of Alvi Associates, Inc. in Towson, Maryland.  He has 30 years of multidisciplinary engineering experience for dams and other infrastructure, involving many hundreds of projects. His experience related to dams includes new design, rehabilitation design, inspection, nondestructive testing, forensic investigation, human factors, 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 Failures & Incidents Committee, leads the committee’s efforts related to human factors, and presented an ASDSO webinar on human factors in 2015.  He served as a member of the six-person independent forensic team which investigated the 2017 spillway incident at Oroville Dam, presented an ASDSO webinar on this investigation in 2018, and received the ASDSO Joseph Ellam President’s Award in 2018 for his work as a member of the forensic team.

• 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