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MCEER Remembers: Haiti Two Years Later

A new classroom building on the UniQ campus was put to use to host the seminars. The building’s design was based on a seismic design example presented at an earlier installment of the seminar series.

Two years after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, much still remains to be done. An estimated 550,000 people continue to live in temporary shelters, as efforts to construct new housing have been complicated by the vast amounts of rubble and debates over land ownership. Despite the setbacks, Haiti is slowly paving roads and drawing up plans for new construction.

In an effort to contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti, the University at Buffalo’s MCEER teamed up with Quisqueya University (UniQ) in Port-au-Prince shortly after the disaster to coordinate and offer a series of professional development seminars in earthquake engineering.

Humbled by the enormity of this challenge, MCEER is inspired in knowing that its work is taking root with the construction of three new classroom buildings on the UniQ campus. These are the first structures on the campus to be built according to seismic design principles – a direct result of the earthquake engineering seminars held by UB/MCEER and UniQ.

To date, MCEER has trained 560 participants in the methods of earthquake-resistant design, which is believed to be more than 50 percent of Port-au-Prince’s engineering population. It is MCEER’s hope that many of these participants are now utilizing their training in the Port-au-Prince area and beyond.

The seminar series has distinguished itself by providing all lectures in French, and basing them on Haitian construction practices. Seminar participants earn certificates for the equivalent of Professional Development Hours / Credits, which can be applied toward a future Master’s degree in earthquake engineering from UniQ. Prior to the January 2010 event, such training in Haiti was extremely rare.

With the passing of the second anniversary of Haiti’s terrible earthquake disaster, MCEER is pleased and proud to have played a small part in the nation’s reconstruction and recovery. We admire the depth of resilience among the Haitian people, and we optimistically hope for the emergence of a new and more disaster resilient Haiti, as the nation rebuilds.

For more information on MCEER’s involvement in Haiti, visit the Center’s page on the Earthquake Engineering Education in Haiti or see the following article at UB News: MCEER Sets Foundation for Rebuilding Haiti, One Engineer at a Time.