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!



January 17, 2019


The David Fischetti Award is presented by the Preservation Engineering Technical Committee of the Association for Preservation Technology International for an outstanding article that advances the field of conservation engineering. Articles must address technical aspect(s) of the engineering as they relate to historic preservation. Articles may be project related, or based on research and cover any of the following topics:

  • History of engineering design, methods, or systems (structural, building enclosure, mechanical, electrical, fire protection, vertical transportation, etc.);
  • Application of analytic methods with proper judgement to analyze archaic systems;
  • Re-evaluation and comparative analyses of historic analytic methods;
  • Assessment of historic materials and systems;
  • Integration of modern systems with historic and archaic systems; and/or
  • Innovative methods of repair of historic systems;
  • Incorporation of engineering judgment and simplified methods

Articles shall be nominated for the award from appropriate, peer-reviewed publications. Nominations may be submitted by the PETC membership, members of the Jury, and the authors themselves.

The jury shall determine eligibility of articles based on the following criteria:

  1. Eligible articles must be original works that have been published in a peer-reviewed journal or publication.
  2. Articles in conference proceedings are not eligible, although authors are encouraged to republish their work in a peer-reviewed publication, subject to conformance with the guidelines for previously published content.
  3. Only articles published in the three years preceding the award shall be eligible.*
  4. The article shall present innovative ideas and serve to advance the practice of conservation engineering to its readers as described above.
  5. The article shall be written clearly and succinctly and shall include drawings and photographs where they are helpful in communicating ideas.
  6. The methodologies or solutions described in the article shall be presented in such a way that they may be transferred and be useful to other projects.

* Articles which had been previously nominated and not selected for the award in a given year are eligible for nomination again, provided that they are within the three-year timeframe.

Each member of the PETC Jury shall review each of the nominated articles, rank or score articles, and provide sufficient detail through the use of comments as to allow final selection of a winner. The winner of the award will be based on a majority vote of the jury. After the score sheet is compiled, the jury captain shall organize a phone call with all jurors to inform about the results and talk about any potential issues raised by the jurors. The final scoring rubric and scoring methods will be determined by the jury and will remain confidential, as will all deliberations.

The jury shall review each article using the following general criteria:

  1. Content falls within the topic categories described above.
  2. Article demonstrates a knowledge of, and adherence to, conservation engineering and historic preservation principles.
  3. Article advances or introduces innovative conservation engineering ideas, theories, technologies, or methods.
  4. Content of article provides information that is applicable by conservation engineering practitioners to other projects.
  5. Article contains valuable historical research that is applicable by conservation engineers to projects.
  6. Clarity of style and content
  7. Quality and value of drawings or other illustrative material

The jury will consist of five (5) APT-PETC Members in good standing, representing a diversity of disciplines and geography of membership. The Chair(s) of the Publications Committee shall be ex-officio members of the awards jury. Jury members shall choose a captain, and the same jury member shall not serve as captain for more than two consecutive years.

Winning author(s) are advised at least three months prior to the APT conference at which the award will be presented. The winning author(s) will receive a framed certificate presented at the APT conference. If an article has multiple authors, each author will receive a certificate. An award is not necessary every year – if articles of sufficiently high quality are not nominated, the award will not be presented.  Following the APT conference, a one-page feature including a summary of the winning article, biographical information about the author(s), and a citation or link to the winning article will be published in APT Bulletin and/or APT Communiqué. If the winning article is from a publication behind a paywall, APT-PETC will encourage the other organization to provide a special link permitting free access for a limited time.

Submittals for the 2019 award review shall be submitted to Tim Crowe (, Amy Lamb Woods ( and Tom Morrison ( of the PETC and must include the following information:

  • Date of nomination submittal.
  • Title of article.
  • Name and date of peer reviewed publication in which article was initially published.
  • Name of individual making nomination.
  • A brief explanation of why article was nominated.

The submittal deadline May 3, 2019.




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