BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo engineer who
developed the world's first apparatus designed to realistically
test how building contents, architectural components and equipment
(called nonstructural components) fare during earthquakes will
leave for Chile on March 5 on a week-long reconnaissance mission to
see firsthand what kind of damage hospitals and tall, engineered
buildings sustained during Saturday's powerful, 8.8 magnitude
Gilberto Mosqueda, PhD, UB assistant professor of civil,
structural and environmental engineering and researcher at MCEER,
the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research
headquartered at UB, will go to Chile as part of a national team
organized by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
As an expert on the seismic behavior of nonstructural components
Mosqueda says that his priority is to get to Chile as soon as
"Unlike a collapsed building, nonstructural components like
equipment, ceiling tiles and a building's interior systems are the
things that tend to get cleaned up pretty quickly after an
earthquake," he says. "That's why we want to get there as soon as
possible to observe what was damaged and how."
He adds that the data gathered on this trip will be directly
applicable to mitigating seismic damage in the U.S.
"Chile has good seismic design standards for buildings and good
engineers to apply and enforce them," Mosqueda says, "and there is
much collaboration between our two countries in engineering."
Mosqueda, for example, coordinates a memorandum of understanding in
earthquake engineering research between MCEER and the University of
Chile in Santiago.
In addition, he says, many of Chile's earthquake engineers are
graduates of UB or other U.S. institutions; while in Chile,
Mosqueda will be working directly with two UB graduates, one of
whom is a Chilean native currently living in Santiago.
Mosqueda will be looking, in particular, at hospitals in Chile
to see the differences between the hospitals that did and did not
collapse, as well as the state of their contents.
A report from the Pan American Health Organization estimated
that 10 health care facilities were rendered inoperable by the
earthquake and the tsunami that followed.
"The idea is to observe how nonstructural components were
damaged and how much risk of harm they posed to individuals and the
functionality of the building," Mosqueda says. "Once we better
understand how these components are damaged, we can come up with
improved solutions for their installation."
Mosqueda, who is a native Spanish speaker, will be working with
two alums of the earthquake engineering program in the UB School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences: Gokhan Pekcan, assistant
professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Rodrigo Retamales,
a professional engineer in Chile.
The data gathered and brought back by Mosqueda and his
colleagues will have special relevance to improving the earthquake
engineering of structures in the U.S.
"Chile has the strongest economy in Latin America," says Andre
Filiatrault, PhD, UB professor of civil engineering and MCEER
director. "It's a country with a lot of experience with earthquakes
and you could argue that their level of preparedness is somewhat
similar to the U.S., so the damage that Chile sustained may be
similar to what could happen in the U.S. with an earthquake of
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