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UC engineering academics receive Innovation Medal

28 July 2023

Meet Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin, Dr Alessandro Palermo, and Professor Andy Buchanan. These three engineers won the 2013 UC Innovation Medal for their efforts in playing a significant part of the rebuild in Christchurch.


Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin, Dr Alessandro Palermo and Professor Andy Buchanan.

Three engineers have been recognised by the University of Canterbury (UC) for their efforts in playing a significant part in the rebuild of Christchurch.

Civil and natural resource engineers Professor Andy Buchanan, Associate Professor Stefano Pampanin and Dr Alessandro Palermo have been awarded UC’s Innovation Medal for using their academic knowledge to benefit the wider community.

The trio were chosen as the medal winners following their innovative contribution to a whole new system of earthquake-resistant buildings using post-tensioned structural timber, referred to as pres-lam (pre-stressed laminated timber).

College of Engineering Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Evans-Freeman says she was thrilled their outstanding work has been acknowledged by UC.

"This is the result of many years’ work, and creative and innovative thinking, culminating in successful application by the team involved.

"Their contribution includes research, development, promotion and technical support. Their pioneering UC research has lifted engineered timber buildings into serious contention for the Christchurch rebuild after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

"They initiated a step-change in the use of timber as a structural material, allowing direct competition with concrete and steel for many multi-storey buildings. They built on some innovative solutions developed for concrete buildings to invent and develop a whole new system of post-tensioned timber for earthquake-resistant multi-storey timber buildings.

"Their innovation has made them world leaders in the international resurgence of multi-storey timber buildings. New buildings of up to 10 storeys are being built in Europe, North America and Australia, with proposals for a 30-storey timber building on the drawing board in Canada.

"Opportunities for the new Kiwi technology in overseas buildings are under discussion. The trio have been instrumental in developing and promoting the new technology for the rebuild of Christchurch.

"This is fantastic news for 2014 as prospective engineering students would love to learn from cutting-edge experts like Andy, Stefano and Alessandro. Our enrolment at UC has begun and this medal success is bound to attract more students to engineering,’’ Professor Evans-Freeman says.

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