UC students learn from earthquake rebuild site

28 April 2016

More than 100 budding engineers have been learning about the Christchurch rebuild first-hand in collaboration with industry in a visit to a central city rebuild site.

UC students learn from earthquake rebuild site

More than 100 budding engineers have been learning about the Christchurch rebuild first-hand in collaboration with industry in a visit to a central city rebuild site.

More than 100 budding engineers have been learning about the Christchurch rebuild first-hand in collaboration with industry in a visit to a central Christchurch earthquake rebuild site.

The site visit, to inspect a major building under construction, Grand Central Christchurch is on the site of the old Hotel Grand Chancellor. The new building is a steel structure that incorporates innovative seismic features including base isolation.

The site visit is part of ENCI429 Structural Systems, a final year paper in the Civil Engineering programme. The aim is to consolidate and broaden the structural knowledge of future engineers, Associate Professor Alessandro Palermo says. 

“The site visit is something unique because the class is more than 100 students attending a lecture on site given by practitioners, which is not usual in New Zealand and especially overseas,” he says.

The building, which is a Warren and Mahoney design built by Fletcher Construction, adopts advanced technology at the forefront of earthquake engineering.

“The students were excited to see structural systems, connections and advanced seismic technology in a real case study and feel more appreciation for what we teach. This site visit is also an injection of motivation to study and perform better because they know that this will increase their chances to be part of these exciting projects,” Dr Palermo says.

The University of Canterbury and the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering continue to have a seamless interaction with industry, Dr Palermo says.

“This initiative stimulates practitioners to engage with academics since they are very motivated to show their design to the future generation of engineers. The academics, by connecting with the industry demonstrate how the UC Civil Engineering Bachelor programme aims to train students with a strong pragmatic background that make our engineers certainly among the best in the world for seismic design.” 

Dr Palermo says the main challenge is to ensure everyone’s safety. “We go through a very robust safety plan. All this takes a huge amount of time, but I believe that seeing the students’ excitement and motivation after the event is well worth the time spent.”

Sean Gledhill, Technical Director within Aurecon’s Christchurch office, is overseeing the engineering delivery and the design of its base isolators and says that following a small earthquake the building will remain operable.

“In a larger earthquake there could be localised damage such as non-critical services pipes, but these would be easily repairable and the building could be returned to full operations shortly after. However in the rare event of a very large earthquake such as an alpine fault fracture, up to 10% non-structural damage may be possible, but the primary structure would not be damaged. Once this has been repaired the building would be ready for reoccupation needed,” he says.

For more information contact:

Associate Professor Alessandro Palermo, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury,  Ph: (03) 364 2987 ext: 8867, alessandro.palermo@canterbury.ac.nz

 

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