Dam Failures and Lessons Learned: Instructors

John Cyganiewicz, P.E. has over 40 years of experience in the analysis, design and construction of large embankment dams. After 32 years with the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), he retired in 2008 to start his company, Cyganiewicz Geotechnical, LLC. Currently he is a private consultant providing independent review and risk analysis services. During his tenure with USBR, his experience ranged from designing some of the largest earth-rockfill dams in the US and overseas – most recently the new Ridges Basin Dam in southwestern Colorado – to rehabilitating a variety of embankment dams in the Western United States. He has special expertise in design; dam safety upgrades for seismic and flood capacity issues; risk analysis; hydropower projects; dam rehabilitation; slurry wall cutoffs; grouting; landslides; construction of dams; instrumentation; and performance of dams. He was a founding member of Reclamation’s Risk Cadre that pioneered the development of risk analysis methodologies (including facilitation of team risk analyses) with a specialty in the probability of failure from seepage and piping failure modes. He was a contributing author to the FEMA document, Best Practices for Conduits through Embankment Dams. He has also served on many design review and advisory boards for major dams.

Debora J. Miller, Ph.D., P.E. is President of Miller Geotechnical Consultants, Inc. based in Fort Collins, Colorado.     Dr. Miller has nearly 30 years of experience in engineering consulting and university research and teaching.  She specializes in geotechnical engineering and design of embankment dams, and is the engineer-of-record for design of new dams, dam enlargement, and dam rehabilitation projects in the Rocky Mountain and southwestern regions of the U.S. and in Australia.  She has served as the project manager and in a lead design role on dam projects situated in a variety of geologic settings and challenging site conditions. Her role on most projects is as the lead geotechnical designer, responsible for geologic/geotechnical site investigations; evaluation and treatment of foundations in both rock and unconsolidated materials; characterization and use of on-site and off-site borrow materials for use in dam construction; seepage, slope stability and deformation analysis for all loading conditions; final design of the dam template, including special filter and drain zones; design for penetrations through the dam; and geotechnical monitoring instrumentation design. Dr. Miller has substantial experience in facilitation of potential failure modes analysis workshops for embankment dams, and has served on several peer review boards for dam design and construction projects.  She is active in dam safety professional organizations, having served two terms on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Society on Dams (USSD) and has been an active member of several technical working committees of both USSD and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO).

Paul G. Schweiger, P.E. is a Vice President of Gannett Fleming and Manager of the Firm’s Dams and Hydraulics Section in Camp Hill.  He has over 31 years of consulting engineering experience during which time he has worked on hundreds of dam projects providing the full range of dam engineering services.  Mr. Schweiger is a certified Failure Modes Analysis facilitator and a regular ASDSO Dam Owner Workshop instructor.  He has published over 40 technical papers and technical manuals, given many presentations on a wide range of dam engineering topics, and is a frequent speaker at national dam safety conferences and specialty technical seminars.  He also developed and co-taught the NRCS SITES course for evaluating the stability and integrity of auxiliary spillways and the ASDSO Inspection and Assessment of Dams course.  He has served on several dam safety committees and work groups including: the National Dam Safety Review Board, the NRCS Study Work Group to evaluate design tools for roller-compacted concrete stepped spillways and embankment armoring, and the FEMA work group for establishing guidelines for the hydraulic safety of dams. He is currently serving as an expert hydrology and hydraulics engineer on an Independent External Peer Review panel for several United States Army Corps of Engineers DSAC I dam projects and managing the FEMA study to convey lessons learned from dam failures and incidents.

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