Preservation Engineering

The APT Preservation Engineering Technical Committee was created in 2003 to provide focus for discussing issues relating to engineering and historic preservation.

The committee's critical tasks are to

  • establish itself as a leader for promoting the role of engineering in the field of historic preservation
  • establish a forum for discussion of issues relating to engineering in the field of historic preservation
  • encourage active and continuous education for professionals from many disciplines who seek a better understanding of historic-preservation engineering techniques and philosophy
  • identify areas of knowledge and practice where further study and/or research is required to establish parameters of practice
  • establish a process and repository for the documentation, collection, and dissemination of information related to the practice of historic-preservation engineering
  • establish a program of generating and publishing consensus standards for treatment of historic engineering systems
  • identify and undertake initiatives to advance the role of the preservation engineer and an understanding of the importance of preservation engineering

Membership is open to all current members of APT with an interest in engineering and the history of building technology who are willing to make regular and substantial contribution to the mission of the committee. The committee meets during the APT annual conference.

Student Design-Build Competition

The PETC Student Design-Build Competition is a hands on challenge to University students with an interest in historic buildings and structures.  Following other student engineering design competitions, teams (composed of any students enrolled at the time of competition call) work to analyze an existing structure and subsequently design a structure within the specified guidelines.  The designs are evaluated and top teams are brought to the APTi Annual Conference for on-site building and testing of their structures, followed by a final competition phase of unique preservation type questions and solutions.

The objective of this competition is to engage more University students into the Preservation/Conservation Engineering field.  The students will learn how the approach to historic buildings and structures differs from new design, with the emphasis to be placed on maintenance and durability of historic materials.

Design Build Competition Phases
Each year a “theme” is announced by the PETC for the competition focus. The past years’ themes have been timber bridges and masonry arches. The competition is open to any University and is generally divided into three (3) phases:

Phase 1 - Structure/Building Selection
Phase 2 - In-House Research & Design
Phase 3 - Conference Finals - Build, Testing, and Presentations

At the beginning of the competition, the PETC releases a Specification package to any group interested in participating. The Specifications provide detail on the “theme”, requirements for submission at each phase, as well as technical descriptions/limitations on the build during Phase 3. Teams compete against the established rubric to allow the top teams to be invited to participate in Phase 3. The bulk of Phase 3 occurs during the annual APT conference. During the conference, the teams present their studies performed in Phase 2 to APT attendees, solve and present their solutions to presentation problems given at the conference, perform a timed build of their structure, and load test their built structure.

Top selected University teams to participate in Phase 3 are required to fund their travel and lodging to the competition; however, the PETC covers their conference registration through generous donations and sponsorship opportunities. The PETC has typically planned for five (5) University teams to participate in Phase 3. Please let us know if you are interested in helping the Student Design Build Competition!

Donations for the Competition (make sure to check the box “PETC Student Design Competition”!)

Sponsorship of the Competition Information


The Student Design-Build Competition Task Force is comprised of people who volunteer their time throughout the competition process. We can use more hands to support the students, as well as other PETC initiatives.

Are you interested? If so, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

Timothy Crowe, Technical Committee on Preservation Engineering Co-Chair

Tom Morrison, Technical Committee on Preservation Engineering Co-Chair

Amy Woods, Technical Committee on Preservation Engineering Co-Chair

More on the Preservation Engineering Committee

2019 David Fischetti Award