Dr Alessandro Palermo  Dr Alessandro Palermo CREDIT: University of Canterbury

UC engineer wins major NZ earthquake engineering research award

Thursday 2 May 2013, 12:16PM
By University of Canterbury

A University of Canterbury (UC) engineer has won the 2013 Earthquake Commission and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering's Ivan Skinner Award for the advancement of earthquake engineering research in New Zealand.

UC civil and natural resources engineer Dr Alessandro Palermo received the prestigious annual award, which promotes research to reduce the impacts of earthquakes on New Zealand communities during the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering conference this week.

UC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engineering) Professor Jan Evans-Freeman said the award was a great coup for the College of Engineering.

``This is an outstanding achievement for an emerging leader in the department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering. Our growing number of engineering students is keen to enrol here to be taught by lecturers like Dr Palermo at such an exciting time in Christchurch,’’ Professor Evans-Freeman said.

Dr Palermo’s contribution focuses on low damage technologies and their application to bridges and buildings.

``I am honoured to receive this special award. Ivan Skinner was one of the pioneers of base isolation and low damage system technology in the early 1970s. My research path to this fascinating world of advanced seismic resistant technologies started in 2001 when I began my collaboration with UC's Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin during my PhD thesis.

``He introduced me to this research and helped me to develop the background knowledge that I am now developing in different structural areas.

``Since then I have worked on concrete and timber buildings but my major and future contribution is in bridge engineering research.’’

Dr Palermo says life safety was the primary objective of the engineering community but they are also aiming to limit business disruption after major events.

``The Christchurch rebuild can be a real driver for using new seismic design technologies available from the UC bridge programme.

``Building designers are already moving towards low-damage system technology for both structural and non-structural components. Bridge engineers have to inherit those enhanced concepts and technologies.

``We want to find technical solutions for bridges which are quick to construct on the site; that are resistant to earthquakes and with higher material quality control and, more importantly, that are cost-competitive,’’ Dr Palermo said.

The $10,000 award will be used for continuing the research on the assessment of the bridges damaged by the Canterbury earthquakes.