Jerome Hajjar honored with lifetime achievement award from Structural Stability Research Council

headshot of Jerome Hajjar
Northeastern CDM Smith professor and chair Jerome Hajjar. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Jerome Hajjar, the CDM Smith Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern, is going to be busy in the coming months. He’s been tapped to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Structural Stability Research Council and is set to become the president of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), the largest institute under the umbrella of the American Society of Civil Engineers

Hajjar is the recipient of the 2024 SSRC Lynn S. Beedle Award, established to honor the late Lynn S. Beedle, who was “an international authority on stability and the development of code criteria for steel and composite structures,” the council’s website says. 

As part of the award, Hajjar will deliver a presentation at the council’s annual conference, slated for March 2024 in San Antonio. 

“This is certainly a great, unexpected honor,” Hajjar tells Northeastern Global News.

More than a year ago, Hajjar was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering

Hajjar says he had met Beedle, who founded the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a premier global nonprofit focused on supporting sustainable cities amid the threat of climate change worldwide. He says Beedle, who was on the faculty of Lehigh University, was a leading researcher on steel structures and was the advisor to many renowned engineers, including Hajjar’s colleague and close friend, Theodore V. Galambos, regarded as one of the most preeminent steel researchers and educators of his generation. 

The award is given to thought leaders who “have carried out world-class research in the field of structural stability and have also made outstanding and decisive contributions to establish SSRC as [a] world leading structural stability organization,” Daniel Linzell, chair of the council, wrote to Hajjar. 

“Professor Hajjar is an outstanding scholar and leader and we are so proud to see his accomplishments recognized internationally,” says Gregory D. Abowd, dean of Northeastern’s College of Engineering. “He brings great recognition to the College of Engineering and Northeastern.”

The award comes as Hajjar gets ready to take on another appointment at the helm of SEI, which has more than 30,000 members and works to improve “every aspect of the structural engineering profession.” 

“Some of the initiatives that SEI is doing and I’ll be a champion of during my term are issues related to sustainability, resilience and equity,” Hajjar says. “I’d like to encourage all structural engineers to make these three topics — sustainability, resilience and equity — premier design objectives guiding all of their designs.” 

The SEI and the American Society of Civil Engineers also play an important role in shaping public policy and setting national structural engineering standards, Hajjar says. The institute — one of nine that make up the American Society of Civil Engineers — is intimately involved with the production and dissemination of structural engineering knowledge, producing specialized publications, organizing conferences and other events and overseeing technical groups focused on advancing the field’s expertise.   

“It’s in these committees where much of the latest information … in the world of structural engineering first flow,” Hajjar says. 

Critical to setting industry standards, Hajjar says the broader engineering society “puts out several standards that get adopted by state legislatures into the state building codes, with ASCE-7 being one of the most critical among them.”

Hajjar continued: “There are so many important initiatives that structural engineers are undertaking in our profession right now, and the SEI is very well positioned to be a large part of, or even help to lead, any of these initiatives.” 

Hajjar’s academic contributions to the field have often focused on structural stability, or how buildings, bridges and other structures can cope with extreme loads. After receiving his Ph.D. in structural engineering from Cornell University, he worked as an engineer for the global architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he studied the designs of some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Hajjar has increasingly focused on how the profession can better address the evolving threat of climate change. Among other contributions, Hajjar has championed the concept of “design for deconstruction,” which focuses on how structures can be taken apart — their components recycled — at the end of their useful life.

As president of SEI, Hajjar hopes to usher in “solutions that dramatically reduce the amount of energy we use in building … structures, the amount of waste we generate, the amount of greenhouse gas we create.”

Hajjar says he will continue teaching, conducting research, and chairing the department at Northeastern during his tenure as president SEI.  

“I have not asked for any change in my duties at Northeastern,” he says. “I anticipate it’s going to be a lot of work, so I’m just going to try to absorb as much of it as I can. This is an exciting opportunity.”

Tanner Stening is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @tstening90.