US Army Corps of Engineers
Institute for Water Resources Website

Dam and Levee Safety Training

The traditional Civil Engineering disciplines of Hydraulic Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and Structural Engineering have explicitly built upon the principle of apprenticeship and certification for engineering professionals. In a broad context, the Engineer-in-Training (E.I.T.) certification and Professional Engineering (P.E.) licenses require experience and continuing education to ensure minimum standards for knowledge and continued learning as the engineeringpractice evolves.

Dam and levee engineering are unique combinations of those disciplines and other disciplines, where expert practitioners have one or two very deep levels of expertise, but also have a working knowledge of all the other disciplines that might affect the safety of a dam or a levee. Experience has shown to the experts in the profession that failures have generally not happened because of mistakes in analyses, but because the interaction between systems or structures have not been envisioned or prepared for. It should be the objective of dam and levee engineers to be not only deep, but broad in their training and experience.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) uses a risk-informed process to make safety decisions for their dams and levees. In 2015, the five federal dam owning or regulating agencies – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR), Department of the Interior, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), USACE, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – developed a common set of risk management guidelines to support safety decisions and a framework for methods they use manage risk for the structures they are responsible for. For USACE, risk management includes routine and non-routine activities throughout the dam and levee safety programs from Headquarters, USACE (HQ USACE) all the way down to the districts.

USACE has a wide variety of training courses for dam and levee safety activities within the broader context of risk management. Some of these courses are taught by the Dam and Levee Safety programs, and some of them are taught through the Corps' learning center through PROSPECT. The courses are targeted towards a wide variety of audiences. They are divided into:

  • Base Courses
  • Intermediate Courses
  • Advanced Courses

Not all of these courses are available as they are in varying stages of development. The PROSPECT courses are for internal USACE employees only; however, the courses developed by the Risk Management Center (RMC) are now available for public consumption through this training website.

Additionally, there is a broad course covering the fundamentals of dams and dam safety targeted to developing nations and entities trying to understand how dam safety programs and activities are organized and implemented.

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RMC-TC-1: Best Practices in Dam and Levee Safety Risk Analysis [Presentations] [Manual]
RMC-TC-2: Levee Screening Tool
RMC-TC-3: SQRA Facilitator Workshop


RMC-XX: RMC-RFA Training Video Series

RMC-TC-4: Risk Calculation
RMC-TC-5: Decomposing Failure Modes and Constructing Event Trees (In Development)
RMC-TC-6: Drilling and Sampling (In Development)
RMC-TC-7: Earth School (Offered by the Bureau of Reclamation)
RMC-TC-8: Embankment Dam Design
RMC-TC-9: Estimating Consequences for Dam and Levee Failures
RMC-TC-10: Exploration and Instrumentation for Dams (In Development)
RMC-TC-11: Geologic & Instrumentation Data Portrayal and Preparing for Risk Assessments
RMC-TC-12: Hydrologic Loading for Risk Assessment (In Development)
RMC-TC-13: Levee Design and Analysis (In Development)
RMC-TC-14: Mechanical and Electrical Risk Assessment (In Development)
RMC-TC-15: Mechanics of Internal Erosion
RMC-TC-16: Overtopping, Erosion, and Hydraulic Risk Assessment (In Development)
RMC-TC-17: Portraying Life Safety Risks to Support Decisions (In Development)
RMC-TC-18: Probabilistic Limit State Analysis (In Development)
RMC-TC-19: Risk Assessment for Internal Erosion
RMC-TC-20: Seismic Evaluation of Concrete Dams


RMC-TC-23: Decision-Making Using Life Safety Risk Assessments (In Development)
RMC-TC-24: Development of Risk Management Alternatives (In Development)
RMC-TC-25: Estimating Construction Risks (In Development)
RMC-TC-26: Risk-Based Cost Estimating for Dam Safety Projects (In Development)
RMC-TC-27: Seminal Papers in Engineering Geology (In Development)
RMC-TC-28: Seminal Papers in Geotechnical Engineering with a Focus on Internal Erosion (In Development)
RMC-TC-29: Seminal Papers in Risk Assessment of Dams and Levees (In Development)
RMC-TC-30: Seminal Papers in Seismic Analysis of Embankments (In Development)
RMC-TC-31: Seminal Papers in Stability Analysis (In Development)
RMC-TC-32: Seminal Papers in Structural Analysis of Dams (In Development)
RMC-TC-33: Seminal Papers in Tolerable Risk (In Development)
RMC-TC-34: Systems Analysis (In Development)