Auckland earthquake engineering students to share research

Monday 4 February 2013, 7:08PM
By University of Auckland

Three doctoral students from the Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research will present their research results to an international conference in Japan next month.

The three students, Majid Ali, Yuanzhi Chen and Miguel Ormeno, were awarded travel grants to the 10th International Conference on Urban Earthquake Engineering, in Tokyo. The awards are from the prestigious Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT) and covers flights, accommodation and conference fees.

“TIT is one of the world’s leading institutions, and its ‘engineering and technology’ ranking according to 2012 QS World ranking is 19. Ours is 68,” says the director of The University of Auckland’s Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research, associate professor Dr Nawawi Chouw. “The awards are based on the excellence of the contribution and the overall strength of the applicant’s scholarly record.” He hopes the announcement will encourage other PhD students to do cross-boundary original research.

The acting Dean of Engineering, Professor Gordon Mallinson, says “the awards are excellent recognition of the quality and relevance of the research that the Centre is conducting. I am sure that attending the conference will be very beneficial for their research experience and development.”

The research by Majid Ali focuses on low-cost earthquake-resistant housing that has the potential to save many lives especially in poor countries. He invented mortar-free structures consisting of interlocking blocks. He uses coconut fibre reinforced concrete and coir ropes to increase material damping and structural ductility.
His innovative work has always been accepted by leading international journals, says Dr Nawawi. He has five international journal articles and at the Conference, he will present his work on ‘Influence of post-tensioned ropes on the dynamic response of innovative mortar-free interlocking structures’.

Yuanzhi Chen has been a PhD student for only five months, and her original work on soil-structure interaction incorporating foundation uplift, has already led to publication in an international journal. Her work will certainly lead to a future low-damage seismic design methodology, says Dr Nawawi. At the Conference, she will talk about ‘An experimental study of nonlinear short-period structures with uplift under near-fault earthquake’.

Research by Miguel Ormeno on storage tanks in earthquake prone regions has been largely experimental. Dr Nawawi says he believes that Miguel’s research outcome will significantly improve not only current New Zealand design guidelines, but also other design specifications, such as API650 or Eurocode 8. He has published two articles in reputable journals. His talk to the Conference is about ‘Experimental investigation of the stresses in a tank shell resulting from uplift during earthquakes’.