Samuel Ariaratnam — professor of construction engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University and a member of the Trenchless Technology Editorial Advisory Board — will now play a role in ensuring the pipelines through which oil and other fuel supplies are moved stay up and running across America.

Ariaratnam has been appointed by United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee, also known as the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee, or GPAC. As a public member of the committee, Ariaratnam will play a role in ensuring pipelines that move important resources stay up and running across America.

GPAC is mandated by federal law and was established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 to review the regulatory initiatives undertaken by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. GPAC members also determine the technical feasibility, reasonableness, cost effectiveness and practicality of those initiatives.

“I’m very honored by this role,” says Ariaratnam, who is the Beavers-Ames Chair in Heavy Construction in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the seven Fulton Schools. “There are a lot of responsibilities, obviously, that come with it, but to me it’s about knowledge and asking the right questions.”

The committee, composed of 15 individuals representing public, industry and government entities, makes recommendations to stakeholders, giving guidance on the laws and regulations that protect and advance the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. Ariaratnam is representing the public sector and will serve a three-year term on the committee.

Ariaratnam brings a unique background to his role on the committee, with extensive experience in the underground construction industry, with a focus on trenchless construction methods, trenchless pipe replacement and horizontal directional drilling.

Ariaratnam describes his work as providing pipeline installation and replacement methods that are less invasive and will have less detrimental impact on the environments around them. “We’re looking at ways of doing things better,” Ariaratnam says. “When it comes to pipelines, whether it’s gas or liquid, the public safety aspect is the critical thing. I hope to share the use-inspired research I’ve conducted with key decision-makers so they can make informed changes to laws and regulations.”

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