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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2010

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Volume 24, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2010

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Student Spotlight: Afsoon Nicknam

Afsoon Nicknam at the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco.

Growing up in a family of engineers, Ph.D. candidate Afsoon Nicknam was familiar with the concepts of engineering at an early age. However, her main motivation in pursuing a career in structural and earthquake engineering is having the opportunity to design structures that could ensure the safety of occupants during natural disasters.

Her research is focused on the development of Propped Cantilever Rocking Walls—an innovative technology combining post-tensioned concrete walls and multi-story diagonal braces, which Afsoon says restrains the response of structures to specified limits of displacement during design-level earthquakes and sustains negligible damage and residual deformations. The technology can be utilized in both seismic design and retrofit of structures. She is working under the direction of her advisor Andre Filiatrault (MCEER Director and Professor in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering) on the MCEER-funded project.

Afsoon received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in her home country of Iran at Sharif University of Technology. In addition to her studies, she is actively involved in the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California (SEAONC) Public Affairs Committee, which gives her the opportunity to be involved in volunteer activities such as “Rebuilding Together,” a nationwide effort to fix up community facilities and houses where the owners need help. She has also completed training in the Cal E.M.A. Safety Assessment Program (SAP), a program that prepares professional engineers and architects to assist local governments in safety evaluation of their built environment in the aftermath of a disaster.

Upon her anticipated graduation in summer 2012, Afsoon would like to pursue a career in industry and become a professional engineer. After obtaining some practical experience, in parallel to her engineering job, she would like to pursue opportunities of collaborative research studies between academia and industry and give lectures in universities.