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Two UC Professors win medals for innovative quake damping devices

28 July 2023

Meet Professor Geoff Rodgers and Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase who were awarded the UC Innovation Medal for 2019 for their collaborative work on seismic damping devices.


Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase is a leader in the field of earthquake mitigation devices that are designed to absorb energy in a big earthquake and prevent building damage.

Professor Geoff Rodgers and Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase have been awarded the University of Canterbury Innovation Medal for 2019 for their collaborative work on seismic damping devices.

Leaders in the field of earthquake mitigation devices, Professors Rodgers and Chase have developed their research during their 15-year collaborative project, and designed a low-cost suite of energy dissipation and seismic damping devices. Already these devices have enabled major changes in how structures are designed and built to create economically resilient cities and communities following an earthquake.

Distinguished Professor Chase emphasises the importance of energy dissipation during a seismic event as the key to minimising the economic effects and preserving life following major earthquakes.

“The whole goal is to dissipate the energy without causing damage to the structure, this allows people to safely get out of buildings and for businesses to continue trading sooner, reducing that ripple effect through the economy,” he says.

The devices are already in use in two new central Christchurch buildings, Forté Health on Kilmore Street and the award-winning public library Tūranga, as well as in a new, nine-storey community housing building in San Francisco, United States.

Professor Rodgers speaks warmly about the devices being used in the San Francisco building project in which developer David Mar, of Mar Structural Design in California, wanted to build “beyond a code-minimum building”.

“I’m proud to be part of this inspirational project which supports occupants that were formerly homeless or are from under-privileged or low-income families. These families wouldn’t necessarily have the resources or social networks to recover quickly following an earthquake, making the design of the building even more important,” says Professor Rodgers.

The Innovation Medal | Tohu Pākai Auaha is awarded by the University Council for excellence in transforming academic knowledge or ideas that are adopted by the wider community in ways that contribute beneficial value. It is the University’s highest recognition of an outstanding innovator.

Professor Rodgers and Distinguished Professor Chase will receive their medals at the UC Council-hosted event, Tangata Tū, Tangata Ora: Celebrating Excellence, on 27 November.

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