BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Before the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake,
Haiti's engineers and architects had received little, if any,
formal training in seismic design and construction principles.
Haitian universities didn't offer any courses or programs that were
dedicated to earthquake engineering.
Six months after the disaster, as the result of a partnership
between the Université Quisqueya (UniQ) and the University
at Buffalo's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering
Research (MCEER), approximately 200 Haitian engineers and
architects will begin a new chapter in their professional lives,
learning to incorporate seismic design into their work.
On Sept. 5-9, they will attend the Second Earthquake Engineering
Seminar at the UniQ campus in Port-au-Prince, jointly sponsored by
UniQ and MCEER; it follows up on the first one held in May and, due
to popular demand, will repeat introductory lessons and include
"The attitude of the engineers and architects in Haiti is
extremely positive," says Andre Filiatrault, PhD, MCEER director
and UB professor of civil, structural and environmental
engineering, who is directing the September seminar; he also
directed the first seminar that was held at UniQ in May. "They
realize that engineering practice in Haiti must change and they are
eager to get this change underway as soon as possible."
The goal of UniQ and MCEER is for attendees to receive academic
credit for the work they are doing at these seminars, according to
Sofia Tangalos, MCEER's education and outreach officer, who
recently was named MCEER director of education programs in Haiti.
MCEER is working with UniQ to develop a professional master's
degree in earthquake engineering that could be enrolling students
as early as fall of 2011, Tangalos says.
"The September seminar curriculum follows the International
Building Code standards, which is the most widely adopted building
code globally," she says.
Because so much construction in Haiti is in concrete,
instruction also will be provided on concrete building design,
following the American Concrete Institute standards, she adds.
It will feature fieldwork with a Haitian mason, who will
demonstrate how to build a confined masonry structure, a widely
accepted, economical approach to construction in areas of high
seismic risk in which unreinforced masonry walls are confined by
reinforced concrete frames.
The September seminar will include two tracks, an "Introduction
to Earthquake Engineering and Post-Earthquake Building Assessment"
and a more advanced program on "Seismic Design Load Calculations
and the Seismic Design of Concrete and Masonry Buildings."
The seminar will cover the seismicity of Haiti,
earthquake-resistant design principles and International Building
Code standards. The U.S. Geological Survey has provided support to
MCEER by sharing their newly developed seismic hazard maps for all
of Haiti that are compatible with the IBC seismic provisions.
In addition to Filiatrault, instructors will include UB doctoral
candidate in earthquake engineering and Haitian native Pierre
Fouché and Wassim Ghannoum, PhD, assistant professor in the
University of Texas at Austin's Department of Civil, Structural and
Environmental Engineering. All instruction will be in French, as
was the case for the May seminar.
The seminars are the result of a three-year memorandum of
understanding between UB's MCEER and UniQ to bring MCEER's
earthquake engineering expertise to Haiti.
The partnership grew out of MCEER's role in assembling and
deploying the first team of structural engineers to Haiti just days
after the earthquake to conduct building safety inspections at the
request of the United Nations. It will focus on the immediate needs
of the engineering and architectural communities in Haiti as well
as on developing longer-term programs to ensure the seismic design
of buildings in Haiti and other francophone countries.
For more information on the September seminar and to register,
please go to http://mceer.buffalo.edu/education/UniQ/Second_Seminar/default.asp
The UniQ-MCEER partnership reflects UB's strategic strength in
mitigation and response to extreme events that has been identified
in the UB 2020 strategic plan for academic, research and service
Founded in 1986, MCEER, headquartered at the University at
Buffalo, is a national center of excellence in advanced technology
applications dedicated to reducing losses from earthquakes and
other hazards, and to improving disaster resilience. One of three
such centers in the nation established by the National Science
Foundation, MCEER has been funded principally over the past two
decades with more than $67 million from NSF, more than $47 million
from the State of New York and more than $34 million from the
Federal Highway Administration. Additional support comes from the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, other state governments,
academic institutions, foreign governments and private
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
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.