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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 2010

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Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 2010

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Student Spotlight: Pierre Fouché

Pierre Fouché

Pierre Fouché

Following the 7.0M earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, University at Buffalo doctoral candidate Pierre Fouché was greatly affected—not just as a multi-hazard engineering student, but as a native of the country.

“After this catastrophic event, the questions and uncertainties have increased,” says Pierre, who was interviewed by several media outlets in the weeks after the earthquake to talk about reconstruction of his country and the considerations in building a stronger Haiti that can better withstand future natural disasters. CNN recognized Pierre's contributions by naming him one of CNN's intriguing people for the week of January 21, 2010.

Growing up in a country known to be vulnerable to natural disasters was largely what motivated Pierre to pursue a degree in engineering. After graduation, Pierre plans to go into practice and acquire hands-on experience that he can integrate into a career in academia and research. He would like to bring his knowledge back to Haiti to help change the way that engineering and design are carried out there.

“Coming here to study I knew that I had a responsibility in getting my countrymen to think about the bigger picture as related to the vulnerability and exposure of the country to multiple hazards,” Pierre says. “While already, in itself, this was no small task, this responsibility has grown after this quake. Besides the reconstruction process, a more comprehensive path has to be taken to get us out of the hole we are in back home.”

In his research project, “Multi-hazard Engineering and Design of Bridge Structures,” Pierre is developing an integrated and cost-effective bridge system that aims to offer a single optimized solution to the constraints of multiple hazards. Pierre was encouraged to explore multi-hazard engineering by his advisor, Michel Bruneau, professor of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, and previous director of MCEER.

Pierre was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2006. He also received the School of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship in 2007, the Presidential Fellowship in 2008 and the Chair's Graduate Recognition Award in 2010, all from UB. He earned his undergraduate engineering degree from Université Quisqueya in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He expects to graduate in December of this year.