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Student's Work Speeds Building

Student's Work Speeds Building

An Auckland apartment block was completed 10 weeks earlier than estimated this year, partly because of research by a University of Auckland engineering student.

Katherine Young's earthquake research was on couplings that could be screwed to join reinforcing bars. This coupling system not only improved site safety, but also sped up building work

. The result was the 16-storey Metro Apartments - built on the old Globe Hotel site - being completed in 42 weeks rather than 52, says Karl Purdie, site manager for the builder, Arrow International.

Miss Young's work was supported by Technology New Zealand's Graduates in Industry Fellowship, which gives tertiary students an opportunity to do research work with businesses.

She did the work for Reid Engineering Ltd, a North Shore consultant and supplier of building and fastening systems.

Reid supplied the steel bars for the project.

Reid general manager Derek Lawley says her work had made concrete construction better, quicker, and more efficient. Metro Apartments was built so quickly that a new floor was being added every three days.

"The floors were precast in Whangarei, then trucked to Auckland and stacked on top of each other." Mr Purdie says the fastening to the bars was "simplicity itself - just like a Meccano set".

Miss Young, who chose the project for her master of engineering degree, says she was testing the response of beams and columns in multi-storey buildings in earthquakes, "because the beam-column regions are one of the areas to fail first in an earthquake".

She believes that buildings can withstand earthquakes better because of her work. "They should stand up better, or suffer reduced damage, which should make them easier to repair."

Derek Lawley says the GRIF scheme is "good experience" for the student and that the business they work with benefits, too, from the improved technological capability.

"We'll continue to encourage GRIF students." The Wellington-born Katherine Young, 24, achieved her ME degree and now works for an Auckland structural design consultancy.


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