MCEER logo

MCEER Bulletin, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2011

skip navigation

Volume 25, Number 1, 2011

mceer logo

Helping Haiti Rebuild: Two Installments of the Seminar Series Offer Expanded Materials and New Topics

Seminar Series group photo

Participants in the seismic design of steel structures program pose for a group photo in front of the classroom building used to present the seminar series

This past August, the fourth installment in a series of earthquake engineering seminars took place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. More than 215 Haitian engineers, architects and students attended the month-long event, which featured nine programs on earthquake engineering and seismic design of buildings in Haiti. Three of the most well attended programs, simplified seismic design, seismic design of steel buildings, and geotechnical earthquake engineering and seismic design of foundations, were offered for the first time during this seminar and drew over 100 participants to each session.

Pierre Fouché reviews classroom content

Instructor Pierre Fouché (left) reviews some classroom content with three seminar participants.

In addition to offering the new programs, a new classroom building on the Quisqueya University (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 new instructors, Constantin Christopoulos (Associate Professor of Civil Engineering & Director of the Structural Engineering Laboratory, University of Toronto) and Denis LeBoeuf (Professor of Civil Engineering, Laval University), joined returning instructors Andre Filiatrault (Professor of Civil Engineering, University at Buffalo), Pierre Fouché (Ph.D. Candidate, University at Buffalo), Wassim M. Ghannoum (Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Austin), J. Eric Karsh (Principal, Equilibrium Consulting Inc, Vancouver) and André Bergeron (Consultant in Structures, Montreal) to conduct the seminar. Sofia Tangalos, senior program officer of MCEER Information Service and education/outreach activities, served as seminar coordinator and Lou-Anne Filiatrault accompanied the team to assist with registration. Haitian colleagues Dean Evenson Calixte and Wolfield Tingue of the Faculty of Engineering & Architecture organized the event on behalf of UniQ.

New buildings on the UniQ Campus

New buildings on the UniQ Campus are incorporating lateral load-resisting systems.

The Third UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar was held on March 12-22, 2011 and brought in over 300 participants for its five programs that were designed to offer in-depth instruction on seismic design adapted to the construction practices in Haiti. A highlight of this third installment in the series was an invited lecture given by Eric Calais, Professor of Geophysics, Purdue University, and Scientific Adviser to the United Nations Development Program in Haiti. Calais is currently co-chair of the United Nations Haiti Earthquake Risk Reduction Task Force and led a team of researchers who found that a previously unmapped fault was responsible for the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

main building of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haïtien

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

Impact of UniQ-UB/MCEER Earthquake Engineering Seminar Taking Root in Portau- Prince and Beyond

The impact of the UniQ-UB/ MCEER seminar series is starting to 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 loadresisting 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....

André Bergero gives a concrete slump test demonstration

Instructor André Bergeron (right) gives a concrete slump test demonstration during his lecture on properties and quality control of materials.

During the Haiti earthquake, all but three of the buildings of the Campus du Centre Professionnel Canado-Haitien in Portau- 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.

New school construction

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

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.

For more information, visit http://mceer.buffalo.edu/education/ UniQ/default.asp.