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Earthquake Engineering Education in Haiti

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Quisqueya University (UniQ) and the University at Buffalo's MCEER have united to provide a series of educational seminars on earthquake engineering in Haiti to practicing engineers, architects, graduate students and senior undergraduate students. The seminars are part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by UniQ and MCEER, which also includes plans to develop longer-term educational programs on seismic design of buildings with a focus on adapted techniques for reconstruction, and promote academic exchange and cooperation over the next three years.

Developed in consultation with UniQ faculty and based on Haitian construction practices, each program includes hands-on exercises, design examples and in-field demonstrations. All lectures and seminar materials are presented in French.

Impact

The impact of the UniQ-UB/MCEER seminar series can already be seen on the campuses of Quisqueya University and the College Canado Haitien, both in Port-au-Prince. Three new lecture halls have been built on the UniQ campus under the supervision of engineers and architects who took part in the UniQ-UB/MCEER seminar series. These new reinforced concrete structures incorporate lateral load-resisting systems (shear walls and moment-resisting frames). Lateral loads would not likely have been taken into consideration in the design of these buildings in the pre-January 12, 2010 era and also if the engineers and architects had not been exposed to earthquake engineering concepts via the seminar series.

Construction of new buildings on UniQ Campus incorporating lateral load-resisting systems.Construction of new buildings on UniQ Campus incorporating lateral load-resisting systems.

Construction of new buildings on UniQ Campus incorporating lateral load-resisting systems.

During the Haiti earthquake, all but three of the buildings of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haitien in Port-au-Prince were leveled. One of the buildings, a four-story lecture hall that was still standing, was badly damaged and needed repairs. Another local engineering firm, whose engineers attended the UniQ-UB/MCEER seminar, repaired the structure by mainly removing heavy architectural elements to reduce its seismic weight. This was achieved by eliminating damaged unreinforced masonry partition walls and architectural precast concrete panels.

Repair of the main building of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haïtien in Port-au-Prince.Repair of the main building of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haïtien in Port-au-Prince.

Repair of the main building of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haïtien in Port-au-Prince.

Many engineers who have participated in the seminar series have also begun to utilize their training in the construction of new buildings in communities beyond the UniQ campus and the Port-au-Prince area.

For example, seminar participant Bruce Robinson is building a school in Foison, a community in the north of Haiti. Shear walls have been integrated into the structure so that it will eventually be able to support a second story.


New Building in Foison, Haiti

Engineers who attended the UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar Series are building a school in Foison, a community in the north of Haiti.