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Christchurch’s rebuild an opportunity for new students

Christchurch’s rebuild once in a lifetime opportunity for new students, US expert says

May 28, 2013

Christchurch’s rebuild is a once in a lifetime opportunity and challenge for students and professionals across a range of disciplines to help reshape a new city, a visiting architectural professor from the University of California, Berkeley, says.

Erskine Fellow Professor Mary Comerio says University of Canterbury (UC) students, academics and industry professionals in structural and geotechnical engineering, construction management, geology, hazards management, planning and architecture and other related fields will have an exciting future in Christchurch.

``UC's faculty and students work at the cutting edge of research which will see their academic work translated into practice very quickly as they move into the technical professions.

``In the Christchurch rebuild, there is evidence all around the city that builders and owners see an advantage to UC research. Billboards announce new office buildings with `the latest seismic design technology’.

``Similarly, UC innovations such as the completely new system of earthquake-resistant buildings using post-tensioned structural timber developed by professors Andy Buchanan, Stefano Pampanin, and Alessandro Palermo and other design innovations by UC used for detailing concrete buildings have been recognised and adopted by numerous owners throughout the city. 

``UC engineering is well known throughout the world for its contributions to earthquake engineering and the current faculty are doing a great job at maintaining that reputation.

``Similarly, UC in general is well regarded throughout the world. As a visiting and returning Erskine Fellow, I can say that the Erskine programme is one of the greatest assets of the university.

``It brings in internationally recognised faculty for teaching and research collaboration, and allows UC staff to travel to other institutions. Over the years, this has brought enormous benefits to all the universities who participate and it has built UC's reputation around the world.

``Far from being an isolated institution, UC works on the world stage and this is supported by the ongoing research linkages developed by visiting Erskine faculty.’’

The Erskine fellowship programme was established in 1963 following a generous bequest by former distinguished UC student John Erskine.
Professor Comerio says UC has done an amazing job evaluating all its buildings and infrastructure and developing plans to make a safe and innovative campus.

The university has learned from the US model that includes seismic strengthening of existing buildings, renewal and replacement of older facilities, and planning for the long range management of any kind of disaster.

``UC is a great campus and the ideal place to study as the rebuild gathers momentum.

People are starting to see more construction and more projects visibly starting. I expect that the mood will continue to improve as the public see projects coming out of the ground, and all the somewhat invisible engineering efforts start to turn to new and better roads, infrastructure and buildings across the city.’’

Professor Comerio, who will give a public lecture on campus at 6pm tonight (Tuesday), is an internationally recognised expert on disaster recovery. In 2011, she received the Green Star Award from the United Nations for her work in post-disaster reconstruction in China and Haiti.


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