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Past News Stories: 2010

Haitian Engineers Continue Training in Earthquake Engineering and Seismic Design with Second UniQ-UB/MCEER Seminar

A mason demonstrates the proper way to build a wall.

A mason conducts a demonstration for Advanced program participants at the Second UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar.

Quisqueya University (UniQ) and the University at Buffalo’s (UB) MCEER held a second installment of seminars in Port-au-Prince on September 5-9 to provide training to more than 220 Haitian engineers and architects in the principles of earthquake engineering and seismic design.

This second installment in the continuing series of seminars featured both an Introductory program on Earthquake Engineering and Post-Earthquake Building Assessment (September 6-7, 2010), and an Advanced program on Seismic Design Load Calculations and the Seismic Design of Concrete and Masonry Buildings (September 5-9, 2010). Approximately 100 participated in the Introductory session; nearly 140 in the advanced. MCEER's initial Introductory seminar in May 2010, attracted an audience of 215 practitioners, including some students. With an estimated 1,000 practicing engineers in Port-au-Prince, it is believed that MCEER has reached nearly 30 percent of the city's engineering population through these continuing education programs. A third installment in the series is planned for January 2011. Read More

7.0M Earthquake Strikes New Zealand; MCEER Investigators Onsite Collecting Reconnaissance Data

Christchurch building

Andy Buchanan/University of Canterbury

An example of damage to a brick building in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A 7.0M earthquake that struck off New Zealand’s South Island early on Saturday, September 4, 2010 (12:35:46 PM EDT), has reportedly caused widespread damage to buildings and roads in the region. The epicenter was located approximately 50 km to the west-northwest of Christchurch, where roughly two-thirds of the 160,000 homes in and around the city were damaged, New Zealand's prime minister has said. The cost of repairs has been estimated at $1.44 billion.1 The earthquake occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting within the crust of the Pacific plate, near the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps at the western edge of the Canterbury Plains.2

MCEER investigators Michel Bruneau (Professor, Department Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo) and Myrto Anagnostopoulou (Structural and Test Engineer, Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory, University at Buffalo) conducted post-earthquake investigations in New Zealand on behalf of MCEER and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). Preliminary damage reports are now available.

Several faculty members in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering at the University of Canterbury who have expertise in earthquake engineering are assisting with damage assessment and planning of repairs around the city of Christchurch. They have reported significant non-structural damage at the campus in Christchurch, which has closed for the week. See photos of non-structural damage at the University of Canterbury.

Bridge Engineering Speaker Series: "Sustainable Development in Bridge Engineering: Development of Multi‐Hazard Design Guidelines"

Monday, Nov. 29, 2010 at 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, 2nd Floor, Room 200G

A new multidisciplinary research landscape has emerged involving just about all scientific and engineering disciplines concerning “sustainability” of the natural and built environments. The structural engineering profession is heavily involved in many distinct aspects of sustainable development such as construction materials, energy efficient buildings, and hazard resilience of physical infrastructure systems. In Monday's installment of the Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series, George C. Lee (SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering Dept. of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering) will use an example to describe the concept and approach to formulate design guidelines of all-hazard resilient highway bridges in regions vulnerable to multiple extreme hazards, currently being carried out at the University at Buffalo, funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

Lee Flyer | Lee Presentation Slides

President of Taylor Devices, Inc. to Give Seminar on Structural Performance Optimization with Integral Spring-Damper Elements

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010 at 3 p.m. (ET) | 140 Ketter Hall

The use of add-on damping elements to improve the structural performance of buildings and bridges during transient shock events is well understood. Recently, numerous structural engineers have found that additional performance enhancements are possible by combining spring and damping elements into an integral added-on component which can easily be implemented into a structural system. When one considers that there is also a large array of potential damper types and output functions the overall task of selecting an optimum spring-damper combination becomes complex. Douglas P. Taylor (President, Taylor Devices, Inc.) will give a seminar on November 30, 2010 on the "Structural Performance Optimization with Integral Spring-Damper Elements." In his presentation, Taylor will discuss the use of spring-damper elements of differing types on four diverse projects. Mr. Taylor has served on MCEER’s Industrial Advisory Board, and Taylor Devices has served as a Flagship partner in MCEER’s Strategic Partnerships Network. The seminar is organized and sponsored by the Student Chapter of EERI at UB, CSEE-GSA, MCEER and Department of CSEE.

Bridge Engineering Speaker Series: "Trends in High Performance Materials" and "Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System"

November 22, 2010, 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, 2nd Floor, Room 200G

Lou Triandafilou (P.E., Senior Structural Engineer, Federal Highway Administration Baltimore, MA) will present "Trends in High Performance Materials" in Monday's Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series. He will talk about how the use of high performance materials (HPMs) for infrastructure applications has increased dramatically in the last fifteen years and how HPMs offer substantial hope for improved systems that last much longer than conventional materials. He will describe the trends occurring with the use of three high performance materials: concrete, steel and fiber-reinforced polymer composites.

Michael Adams (Research Geotechnical Engineer, Federal Highway Administration) will follow Triandafilou's talk with a discussion on "Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System." He will give an overview of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS) and talk about how it was recently selected by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for its Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative, which aims to identify and deploy innovation aimed at shortening project delivery, enhancing the safety of our roadways, and protecting the environment.

Triandafilou Flyer | Triandafilou Presentation | Adams Flyer | Adams Handouts

Bridge Engineering Speaker Series: Structural Health Monitoring

October 25, 2010, 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, 2nd Floor, Room 200G

Structural health monitoring (SHM) and nondestructive testing (NDT) are being increasingly advocated for bridge owners to complement or replace the visual inspection of bridges, and to assist in bridge management. Sreenivas Alampalli (Director, Structures Evaluation Services Bureau, NYSDOT), this Monday's guest in the Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series, will present a discussion on the components and uses of structural health monitoring in bridge management applications. He will also explore the interrelationship and differences between NDT and SHM.

Salvatore Salamone (Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo) will follow Alampalli with a presentation on "Health Monitoring of Prestressing Tendons in Post-tensioned Concrete Bridges." He will also present real-time damage detection and location in post-tensioned bridge joints using Acoustic Emissions collected during large-scale laboratory testing. Issues and potential for the use of such techniques to monitor post-tensioned bridges in the field will be discussed.

Alampalli Flyer | Salamone Flyer | Salamone Presentation Slides

Bridge Engineering Speaker Series: Movable Bridges and Floating Bridges

October 11, 2010, 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, 2nd Floor, Room 200G

Earl E. Dubin (Senior Structural Engineer, Federal Highway Administration) will discuss various types of movable bridges and how they function as a guest speaker in Monday's Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series. Dubin will cover some of the unique aspects of inspection and maintenance of movable bridges. He will also highlight the capital replacement and repair program being carried out by the New York City DOT.

Following Dubin's lecture, Patrick Clarke (Special Structures Manager, Washington State Dept. of Transportation) will present a lecture on floating bridges. Clarke will talk about the various floating bridge types, configurations, and the pros and cons of their application. He will also cover Washington State’s current practice for floating bridge design, and how that practice is influenced by construction, operations, and maintenance activities.

Dubin Flyer | Clarke Flyer | Dubin Presentation Slides | Dubin Handouts

Expert to Address Issues Related to the Modeling of Wind Load Effects on Structures

Friday, October 1, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. (ET) | 140 Ketter Hall

Quantification of aerodynamic loads on modern long span bridges, tall buildings and deep offshore platforms for oil production and supporting wind turbines is central to the assessment of their performance in extreme winds. On Friday, October 1, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. (ET), Dr. Ahsan Kareem, Robert M. Moran Professor of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, will address fundamental issues related to the modeling of wind load effects on structures in a seminar titled, “Wind Effects on Structures: The Next Frontiers.” Dr. Kareem will provide an overview of the extreme wind characteristics in hurricanes, tornadoes and downbursts and their impact on structures. He’ll also discuss basic techniques for quantification of wind loads and their effects using analytical, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and model-based and data driven simulation schemes, codes and standards based procedures, and experimental and full-scale experiments. Dr. Kareem is a former President of the American Association for Wind Engineering, a Distinguished Member of ASCE, and a member of National Academy of Engineering (NAE). This seminar is jointly sponsored by the Student Chapter of EERI at UB, CSEE-GSA and MCEER.

Second UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar Will Offer Advanced and Introductory Program Tracks

To find out more about future opportunities, contact

Haitian structural engineers and architects who participated in the First UniQ-MCEER-UB Earthquake Engineering Seminar will have the opportunity to continue their training with an advanced program on seismic design and construction this September in Port-au-Prince.

“Seismic Design Load Calculations and the Seismic Design of Concrete and Masonry Buildings" (September 5-9, 2010) will provide in-depth instruction on design procedures, construction techniques and structural behaviors of reinforced concrete elements and confined masonry buildings in Haiti. The program will include a hands-on demonstration of the construction of a confined masonry wall with the help of a trained Haitian mason. Individuals enrolling in the Advanced Program are required to have already completed the Introductory Program.

In addition to the advanced program, "Introduction to Earthquake Engineering and Post-Earthquake Building Assessment" (September 6-7, 2010) will be offered again for engineers who were unable to attend this introductory program held last May. Read More

Bridge Series Speaker to Provide Overview of Seismic Retrofitting Manual for Highway Structures

Monday, Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, Room 200G

Derrell Manceaux, Senior Structural Engineer in the Structures Resource Center, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will present an "Overview of Seismic Retrofitting Manual for Highway Structures: Bridges" this Monday as part of the Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series. Manceaux will explain the philosophy behind FHWA's 2006 publication "Seismic Retrofitting Manual for Highway Structures: Part 1-Bridges," which attempts to satisfy public expectations of bridge performance for earthquakes ranging from small to large. Unlike the "AASHTO Guide Specifications for LRFD Seismic Bridge Design," the retrofit manual gives performance criteria for ground motions with different return periods, 100 and 1000 years. Manceaux will cover these criteria, and will introduce various deformation capacities for structures not detailed for seismic loadings, as well as retrofit concepts such as strengthening, force limitation, response modification, and damage control.

Speaker Flyer | Presentation Slides, Part 1 | Presentations Slides, Part 2

M 5.0 Earthquake Jolts Quebec / Felt in Western New York

5.5 Earthquake Jolts Quebec

A USGS intensity map depicts a portion of the area over which the June 23, 2010, M=5.0 Ontario-Quebec Border Region earthquake was felt. View the full USGS map.

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake shook the Ontario-Quebec Border Region of Canada on July 23, 2010, at 1:41:42 PM (EDT). The earthquake was felt in Western New York, and reportedly in at least 21 states from Maine to Wisconsin, and as far south as Alabama. In Canada, it was reportedly felt in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

The earthquake was estimated to have occurred at a depth of 18 km (11.2 miles) and was located roughly 53 km (33 miles) NNE from OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada, however these estimates may change as more data becomes available. This earthquake occurred near the southern edge of the Western Quebec Seismic Zone. Earthquakes in this region have caused damage roughly every ten years coupled with three or four smaller events producing relatively little to no damage.1 The Toronto Star reported that several buildings in Ottawa were evacuated with tremors lasting around 30 seconds. Windows at Ottawa’s City Hall were shattered and a brick chimney came apart at a nearby masonry building. CBC News has reported significant damage occurred to several buildings in Gravefield, Quebec which lies close to the quake's epicenter. Read More...

In the News

First MCEER-UniQ Earthquake Engineering Seminar Draws More Than 200 Participants

Pierre Fouche teaching seminar in Haiti

UB Ph.D. Candidate Pierre Fouché teaches engineers about earthquake engineering in Port-au-Prince.


Over 215 engineers and architects attended the first earthquake engineering seminar jointly organized by MCEER and Quisqueya University (UniQ), May 20-22, 2010, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Participation was more than twice the number originally expected. The purpose of the seminar was to provide Haitian engineers with much-needed knowledge of fundamental earthquake engineering principles for retrofit of damaged facilities and design of new construction, and to train them in conducting rapid building assessments on the many damaged structures that still remain standing following the January 12 earthquake. The seminar, the first in a series, is part of an international education initiative between the University at Buffalo (UB), UniQ and MCEER. Read More

Powerful Quake Tests Accelerated Bridge Construction Method

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck at the University at Buffalo on Tuesday, May 18, as MCEER investigators conducted tests on a 70-ton, 60ft.-long concrete bridge in the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), located in Ketter Hall on UB's North Campus. The test program, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, examined the earthquake performance of bridges that have segmental concrete columns and superstructures. This type of bridge offers a cost-effective means of accelerating construction, but until now, its performance during earthquakes had never been demonstrated through experimentation.

Multiple Earthquakes in Southern Qinghai Province of China

A series of strong earthquakes killed at least 2,000 people and injured 10,000 people in western China on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. The largest of the quakes was a 6.9M earthquake, which occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting in the tectonically complex region of the eastern Tibetan Plateau, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

MCEER's Information Service has compiled a collection of links to news, images, statistics and other resources related to the earthquake.

UB Disaster Experts Share Experiences with Haiti Earthquake Assistance

MCEER Director Andre Filiatrault was part of a relief team that traveled to Haiti to determine the safety of critical structures. (UN EESU, AIDG/MCEER, UB)

Following the 7.0M earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, MCEER Director Andre Filiatrault traveled to Haiti with a team of French-speaking architects and engineers to assess the safety of critical structures in a 7-day relief mission. Filiatrault and several colleagues shared their experiences following the disaster at UB Reaching Others - The Haiti Earthquake, a seminar held on March 26, 2010 at the University at Buffalo.

Bridge Engineering Speaker Series Resumes for Fall Semester with Discussion on Leveraging Resources for Better Transportation

Monday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. | Baldy Hall, Room 200G

How do state departments of transportation solve their most pressing problems? How do committees of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) get the information they need for the Association’s standards, guides, and specifications? For more than 40 years, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has been an important part of the answer. In his presentation "NCHRP Leveraging Resources for Better Transportation," Waseem Dekelbab (Senior Program Officer, NCHRP/Transportation Research Board) will review the NCHRP organization and process including program funding and selection. He will also cover how to write an effective research statement, how to prepare a proposal on NCHRP projects, and what constitutes a good research report.

Speaker Flyer | Presentation | Register for the Webcast

MCEER Joins with Haitian University to Hold First Seminar on Earthquake Engineering

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, graduate students and senior undergraduate students. The first seminar was held May 20-22, 2010 in Port-au-Prince on the UniQ campus, and aimed to help Haitian engineers gain knowledge of fundamental earthquake engineering principles for retrofit of damaged facilities and design of new construction.

For more information, visit the First Earthquake Engineering Education Seminar Web Page.

Arup Engineer will Discuss "Regular Structures in an Irregular World"

Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 1:00 P.M. | 140 Ketter Hall

Leo ArgirisArchitectural trends in the design of buildings continue to change. One consistent theme is the desire of architects and building owners to achieve more complex building programs and building forms. At the same time, we are seeing rapid development in building codes, construction methodologies and design tools. In this talk, Leo Argiris, Principal and Structural Engineer at Arup, will explore how these trends are impacting structural engineering. He will highlight several recent and current projects engineering by Arup. This presentation is organized by the Student Chapter of EERI at UB, CSEE-GSA, MCEER and the Department of CSEE. It is sponsored by MCEER.

Seminar Addresses Project-Directed Physical Testing and its Importance in Delivering Better Seismic Performance

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. | 140 Ketter Hall

Over the past decade, project-directed physical testing has been performed on numerous projects by engineers throughout the country. Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA) has participated in project-directed physical testing that, in most cases, has resulted in changes to codes or standards that govern the conditions investigated while, at the same time, improves the seismic performance of specific projects. John D. Hooper, PE, SE, Principal and Director of Earthquake Engineering at Magnusson Klemencic Associates Inc., Seattle, WA, will highlight several of these project-directed testing efforts and will discuss the accompanying seismic performance enhancements.

This seminar is sponsored by Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) through its "Friedman Family Visiting Professional Program." It is organized by the University at Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE), the CSEE Graduate Student Association, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Chapter and MCEER.

MCEER Investigator Travels to Chile to Assess Damage of 8.8M Earthquake

Damaged structure in Chile after 8.8M earthquake.

Gilberto Mosqueda/MCEER

A courthouse in Talca, Chile suffered nonstructural damage.

MCEER investigator Gilberto Mosqueda, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, was part of the EERI Reconnaissance team investigating the aftermath of the 8.8-magnitude Chile earthquake that struck the South American nation on February 27, 2010. Prof. Mosqueda was joined by two former University at Buffalo graduates: Gokhan Pekcan, assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and Rodrigo Retamales, a professional engineer in Chile. They assessed nonstructural damage sustained by hospitals and other engineered buildings.

AASHTO Bridge Chairman speaks at UB

Mal KerleyMal Kerley, Chief Engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation and Chairman of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges & Structures, shared his ideas about what it takes to make an agency excel in the current environment in his presentation "Managing Change, Challenges and Other Things." He used specific examples of VDOT's forward thinking in the areas of innovative financing, design-bid-build, design build, build-operate-transfer; Public-Private Partnerships.

Distinguished Speaker Series Features Experts in Bridge Engineering

bridge collapse Some of the nation's leading experts in the field of bridge engineering will visit UB this spring as part of a new Bridge Engineering Distinguished Speaker Series. Held on Monday evenings at 5:00 pm, the presentations will cover a wide variety of topics in bridge engineering, including project development, public policy and learning from bridge failures. The series was established in collaboration with AASHTO’s Subcommittee on Bridges & Structures, and with the support of the Federal Highway Administration. For more information, visit

Measuring Community Resilience is Aim of NIST-Sponsored Project

Resilience Project LogoMCEER investigators are expanding the resilience concept to establish a framework to measure the disaster resilience of communities in a new project sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "A Framework for Defining and Measuring Disaster Resilience at the Community Scale" will build on previous research at MCEER linking the four resilience properties (robustness, redundancy, resourcefulness, and rapidity) and resilience dimensions (technical, organizational, societal, and economic). Andrei Reinhorn, University at Buffalo, is the principal investigator of the project.

MCEER and Calspan Partner for Full-Scale Bridge Test

In partnership with Calspan, MCEER will develop two full-scale bridge tests at Calspan’s 700-acreAshford facility. The Ashford facility will enable Center researchers to subject two adjacent single lane bridges equipped with state-of-the art isolation technologies to harsh, real-world conditions and earthquake vibrations.

The MCEER-Calspan partnership will leverage the infrastructure-research skills of MCEER with the testing expertise of Calspan Corporation, internationally recognized for its rich heritage of innovation and proven excellence in technology and science.

MCEER Research Focuses on Improving Earthquake Response of Substation Equipment

power transformerMCEER researchers are working on a series of studies supported by $1.2 million from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the California Energy Commission (CEC). The research will continue a long-time MCEER focus on the seismic resilience of electric power substation equipment. The projects are led by Andrei Reinhorn, in collaboration with Andre Filiatrault and Michael Constantinou. They also include a project advisory committee comprising industry participants that will provide continuing guidance to the research program.

2010 EERI Distinguished Lecture Awardee will Discuss Emergency Sensor Systems

Thursday, March 18 at 10:00 a.m. | 140 Ketter Hall

Sharon WoodIf bandwidth issues could be resolved, one could easily envision post-earthquake rescue services similar to those currently used to deploy emergency responders after automobile crashes. In her presentation titled “The Potential of Ubiquitous Sensing," Sharon L. Wood, Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, will talk about the potential of sensor systems within buildings and bridges that could automatically trigger yellow or red flags based on the measured response.

The seminar is sponsored by the University at Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE), the CSEE Graduate Student Association, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Chapter and MCEER.

FHWA Official Discussed Obstacles, Opportunities in Preserving Nation's Bridges

Myint Lwin; Director, Office of Bridge Technology, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); presented "Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Building and Preserving our Nation’s Highway Bridges" on January 25, 2010. Lwin discussed the FHWA’s mission, jurisdiction, organization and programs established to provide the stewardship and oversight necessary to assure safety of the nation’s highway bridges. He also explained the federal government’s relationship with states and local agencies, and opportunities that are presented by these challenging times.
Presentation | Speaker Flyer

7.0M Earthquake Causes Widespread Devastation in Haiti

Photo: Matthew Marek /American Red Cross

A Haitian village is shown in ruins after a 7.0M earthquake on January 12, 2010.

A 7.0M earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 4:53 PM EST, reportedly causing extensive damage and destruction in the affected region. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the activity occurred in the boundary region that partitions the Caribbean plate and the North America plate. The epicenter was determined to be roughly 10 miles southwest of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

MCEER's Information Services Web site has links to preliminary reports, news releases and maps for the earthquake.

Speaker Presents Overview of the Bridge Infrastructure Enterprise

Benjamin TangBenjamin Tang, Preservation Managing Engineer with the Oregon Department of Transportation, gave a presentation titled an "Overview of the Bridge Infrastructure Enterprise." Tang talked about career alternatives in infrastructure management, explaining means used to assure that our nation's highway facilities are safe. He covered stages of a bridge project life cycle, from planning through operation, maintenance and preservation.
Presentation | Speaker Flyer