William L. Coulbourne, P. E

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William L. Coulbourne, P.E.


  • Natural Hazard designs

  • Floodproofing

  • High Winds

  • Building evaluations

  • Structural engineering for buildings


M.E. / 1999 / Structural Engineering – University of Virginia

B.S. / 1968 / Civil Engineering – Virginia Tech

Professional History

Coulbourne Consulting, 2007 - Present

URS, 2000-Present Department Head, Manager, FEMA Special Programs

Greenhorne & O’Mara, Inc., Department Head, Natural Hazards Engineering, 1995-2000

Structural Engineering Consultant, 1992-1995

Vision Builders, Inc., and Consumer Energy Savers franchise Owner, 1983-1992

Proctor & Gamble Engineering Division and Manufacturing Company, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, 1968-1983


Professional Engineer: Maryland, 1975 (9419); Virginia, 1993 (024462); Delaware, 1993 (9492)

Certified Structural Engineer (1866-1105)


National Society of Professional Engineers

Virginia Society of Professional Engineers

National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers – Director and Secretary

Association of State Floodplain Managers

American Society of Civil Engineers

Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE), Charter Member

Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Accreditation Commissioner


Mr. Coulbourne has 39 years of experience as an engineer and manager. His expertise includes building design, methods, materials, and codes. He is experienced in hazard-related design and construction of wind- and hurricane-resistant structures. He has performed structural inspections and building investigations on thousands of structures to assess past or future performance during a natural hazard event. Mr. Coulbourne has provided professional expertise to national insurance companies in the identification of major structural defects and has served as an expert witness for a variety of residential construction issues.

Mr. Coulbourne is semi-retired from URS but continues to be responsible for business development for risk assessment and structural engineering for facilities work at URS - Gaithersburg. In this capacity, he works with a variety of federal, local government and private clients to provide planning, structural engineering, risk assessment and hazard vulnerability studies, building inspection and due diligence services. Mr. Coulbourne has made over 50 presentations and taught more than 25 courses on subjects related to designs and regulatory requirements for natural hazards. Audiences for these presentations and classes have included architects, engineers, planners, building officials, coastal zone management experts and regulators, and citizens.

Mr. Coulbourne actively participates in engineering standards development by working on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards ASCE 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures and ASCE 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction.

Mr. Coulbourne has worked on behalf of the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers (VSPE) with the State of Virginia to develop a database of engineering professionals within the State who are trained and can respond to a major disaster that might occur within the State. This effort has included working with the State on a Memorandum of Understanding between the State’s emergency management organization and VSPE.

Mr. Coulbourne will begin an adjunct teaching assignment at the University of Delaware Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Fall 2007 and will teach courses on Building Design and Disaster Engineering.

Hurricane Katrina Mitigation Assessment Team, FEMA, AL, MS, LA

Program Manager responsible for the reconnaissance work and development of recommendations for reconstruction in the areas affected by the storm. Provided numerous project briefings and presentations to groups nationwide interested in the results of the studies.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Technical Review Program, FEMA.

Program Manager responsible for the technical review (engineering, environmental, and benefit/cost) of over 300 projects presented by grant applicants from across the nation. The reviews were conducted within a 4-week period with a team of nearly 80 professionals from several firms including URS. The reviews involved several levels of internal review culminating in a short technical report for each project providing the technical evaluation of the project.

Homestead, FL AFB Hangar Vulnerability Assessment

Project Manager and structural engineer responsible for conducting a high wind and flood vulnerability assessment of an air force hangar being studied for adaptive re-use by FEMA.

Red Cross ARC 4496 Technical Evaluation

Assisted Red Cross as an expert panel member to evaluate ARC 4496 shelter assessment tool and to make recommendations for improving the assessment methodology. Other panel members included shelter, high wind, evacuation and building design experts from across the country.

TARC Contract, FEMA, Nationwide

Program Manager for BESTT Joint Venture. Contract provides expert engineering and publication experience for nationally applicable design and study tasks. Some studies are forensic in nature conducted after disasters, and others are problem-focused studies that will help reduce the costs of future disasters. Recently led the Mitigation Assessment Team efforts for Hurricanes Charley, Ivan and Katrina.

Smithsonian Institution Vulnerability Assessment, Americas

Structural engineer that was part of a team to perform vulnerability assessments for natural and manmade hazards for Smithsonian buildings nationwide and in Panama. These assessments were conducted using FEMA 452 methodology. The buildings were usually multi-story, were potentially impacted by several different hazards and involved numerous building systems.

Floodproofing Design Study, Home Depot, MA

Project Manager for a floodproofing evaluation performed by Home Depot’s structural engineer for a building to be located in the floodplain. The evaluation included an analysis of the adequacy of the design and provided the client with some additional considerations in the operation of the building during a flood event.

Hurricane Mitigation Study, Southeast Region, GSA. Program Manager responsible for conducting an evaluation of 120 government-owned buildings to determine how the buildings would respond to hurricanes and to develop mitigation measures to improve building performance.

Hospital and Nursing Home Natural Hazard Evaluations, Aegis Solutions, Calcasieu Parish, LA. Performed building inspections to determine how the buildings would likely perform during a design hurricane event. Made building retrofitting recommendations to the client to improve the building’s performance during these events.

Beebe Medical Center, Lewes, DE. Assessed this coastal hospital’s ability to withstand a major storm. The study and report included an analysis of the structural adequacy of the facility and the likelihood of a significant event in this coastal area. A presentation for the hospital and community was prepared.

Coastal Construction Manual, FEMA. Project Manager responsible for rewriting this 3-volume, 1000 page manual (FEMA 55 3rd Edition) to be used by engineers, architects, and building officials. This work also included the development of an interactive CD-ROM.

In-Home Shelter Design, FEMA, Nationwide. Prepared report (FEMA 320) on design criteria, including wind speeds that should be considered in the design and installation of an in-home shelter that will act as occupant protection from extreme winds.

South Carolina Schools, FEMA, South Carolina. Presented a one-day workshop in three locations to engineers and architects employed by the State Board of Education on the natural hazards likely to occur in the state and on ways to mitigate damage from these hazards.

Critical Facilities Evaluation, Hernando County, FL. Performed structural analysis of Emergency Operations Center to determine the impact a major hurricane would have on the structure. Recommended mitigation measures for the building and presented the findings to Hernando County officials.

Shelter Evaluations, State of Florida. Project Manager responsible for evaluating more than 350 shelters used for hurricane evacuation throughout central and south central Florida.

Shelter Evaluations, State of Delaware. Project Manager responsible for evaluating 40 buildings used as hurricane evacuation shelters.

Shelter Evaluations, State of North Carolina. Project Manager responsible for evaluating 17 buildings used as hurricane evacuation shelters. These buildings are located along the NC coast.

Design & Construction Guidance Manual for Community Shelters, FEMA. Project Manager responsible for development of this “first of its kind” design manual (FEMA 361) on the concepts important to the engineering for shelters used for large numbers of people.

publications and presentations (partial list)

Engineering Inspections for Natural Hazards, National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers (NABIE) Conference, 1998

Coastal Construction Manual, FEMA, 1999. Primary author for this 3-volume, 1000 page, engineering manual (FEMA 55 3rd Edition) on the design and construction issues important to the building of coastal buildings.

Design Guidelines for Sheltering from Extreme Winds, America’s Conference on Wind Engineering, 2001

Designing Hurricane Evacuation Shelters, ASCE Solutions to Coastal Disasters Conference, 2002

Design Guidelines for Community Shelters for Extreme Wind Events, Journal of Architectural Engineering, Volume 8, Number 2, June 2002

Lessons Learned, Building for Extreme Events, Structure Magazine, August 2006

Coulbourne Consulting, 19266 Coastal Highway, Unit 4, # 19, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971

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