More than 30 people gathered last week to form a new student chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute - EERI. There has been substantial interest in earthquake resistant structures since a group of UNM students formed to create an earthquake-resistant structure to rebuild a community center in Nepal.

The president and officers of the student group unm4nepal also came to the first EERI meeting and the two boards of officers are already joining forces to work together towards their shared goals. The EERI student chapter offered UNM4Nepal technical assistance and help in their projects moving forward.

Sherif Aboubakr, president of the student chapter, said, "We believe that there is an essential need for a student chapter to help prepare the next generation of engineers to minimize earthquake threats and insure safety of communities from seismic events. This chapter is run by students to broaden their educational experience and to introduce practice through collective initiatives among the students themselves related to structural design, resilience, and sustainability."

This student interest drove this more formal organization. Fernando Moreu, assistant professor of Civil Engineering, will be a faculty advisor for the chapter.

“The University of New Mexico provides with this new EERI student chapter a new platform for students to get involved in design of more resistant structures against earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters," Moreu. "Students of the EERI student chapter can compete with other universities in designing building models resistant to earthquakes. With our recently acquired shake table and the lead of UNM post-doctorate fellow Dr. Ali Ozdagli and our graduate students, undergraduates can learn new concepts in structural engineering and actually build small models that they will test in our laboratory first and later on in the national EERI competition."

The guest speaker at the inaugural meeting of the UNM chapter of EERI was Yongchao Yang from LANL
The guest speaker at the inaugural meeting of the UNM chapter of EERI was Yongchao Yang from LANL.

Moreu said UNM now can compete with the best earthquake engineering programs thanks to the graduate students leading the new EERI student chapter. By collaborating with other existing organizations and resources at UNM, EERI can provide the technical knowledge to have an increase in undergraduate research in topics such as earthquake design and monitoring.

The guest speaker for the first meeting was Dr. Yongchao Yang from the Los Alamos National Laboratory who gave a lecture on “Full-Field Structural Dynamics by Video Motion Manipulations” discussing an innovative method that has potential to improve the current seismic design practices.

The next meeting of the group is scheduled for the first week of classes in Fall 2016. Those interested in joining the chapter should contact President, Sherif Aboubakr.