BUFFALO, N.Y. -- News of any earthquake spreads quickly among
the dozens of earthquake engineering researchers and students at
the University at Buffalo. But Wednesday's magnitude 6.4 quake in
southwest Pakistan held particular interest for two researchers
visiting UB and MCEER this semester from Pakistan's NWFP University
of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar.
Since August, Ali Syed and Amjad Naseer, both professors in that
university's Earthquake Engineering Center, have been visiting
researchers at MCEER, UB and its Structural Engineering and
Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), where they are
participating in intensive training in earthquake engineering
technologies and testing techniques. MCEER is a national center of
excellence focused on multi-hazard engineering and headquartered at
Both professors learned of the recent quake very soon after it
occurred. It was situated near Quetta, in one of Pakistan's most
seismically active regions; in 1935, that city was destroyed by an
earthquake that killed 35,000 people.
"As far as Quetta city is concerned, there may be some damage
there from this new earthquake, but so far the exact amount and
type is not yet known," said Naseer.
Greater damage and large numbers of casualties occurred in the
small, impoverished and remote villages, some of which were
Naseer said that most homes in these villages are adobe style,
made of mud and/or sun-dried brick and straw with heavy roofs. But
even these modest homes can be made more earthquake-resistant, he
said, by erecting timber posts and braces in corners of rooms and
in the middle of walls, and by joining them with horizontal
Similar techniques, including confined masonry, which he is
focusing on, also will benefit masonry buildings, which are
prevalent throughout Pakistan. He has tested single- and
double-story typical confined brick masonry building models on the
shake table at the University of Engineering and Technology to
better understand their behavior. These techniques, he said, have
been successfully employed in regions of high seismicity throughout
the world, for example, in India, Mexico, Peru and Serbia.
Connections between UB and other U.S. universities and the
University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan were launched
not long after that nation's devastating 2005 earthquake in which
80,000 people died. The Engineering University at Peshawar signed a
three-year memorandum of understanding with UB's MCEER to begin
research that would help reduce seismic damage in Pakistan.
As part of that relationship, a student from the University of
Engineering and Technology is currently completing his doctorate in
the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering
in UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a second
student will begin his studies at UB in the spring.
"In seismic testing, the University at Buffalo is among the top
few institutions in the U.S. and the world," said Ali Syed. "We are
auditing classes and getting exposure to state-of-the-art
methodologies and techniques."
At UB, Syed and Naseer have worked closely with Andrei Reinhorn,
Ph.D., Clifford C. Furnas Professor of Structural Engineering, and
with the technical staff of the SEESL.
"This unique hands-on training is offered to international
researchers and laboratory staff with interests in acquiring and
operating similar equipment and/or other components in their
laboratory facilities," said Andre Filiatrault, Ph.D., director of
MCEER and SEESL and UB professor in the Department of Civil,
Structural and Environmental Engineering.
While Syed has visited UB previously for short periods (he has
an uncle who lives in Buffalo), he said that the opportunity to
spend several months here is extremely gratifying.
And while the professors have worked with other universities in
the U.S., they are interested in doing more with UB, particularly
in seismic bridge design.
"Seismic research on bridges has just started in Pakistan and
since this is one of UB's key areas of expertise, we would like to
do more with the university," said Syed.
A key factor in the professors' decision to come to UB was the
opportunity to work with UB researchers, learning to operate the
shake tables and other seismic simulation equipment in SEESL, a
state-of-the- art facility that is home to twin, movable shake
tables capable of real-time seismic testing of structures up to 120
feet in length. It is a leading equipment site in the National
Science Foundation's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake
Engineering Simulation (NEES) a nationwide earthquake-engineering
Since Sept. 11, 2001, faculty in UB's Department of Civil,
Structural and Environmental Engineering and MCEER, along with
other researchers throughout the university, have been applying
their expertise to a broad range of natural and manmade hazards
from earthquake engineering to extreme events, in close cooperation
with the UB 2020 strategic strength in "Extreme Events: Mitigation
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
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the Association of American Universities.