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Prestigious award to study earthquakes overseas

Media Release -
Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Engineer wins prestigious award to study earthquakes overseas

Earthquakes and shaky homes is a reality for kiwis, but for Merrick Taylor, an Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) Graduate Member, winning the 2005 Hume Fellowship worth $30,000 means he can study the subject overseas in-depth, and bring home much needed specialist knowledge.

Winning the Hume award - one of the premier awards available to the engineering profession in New Zealand - will enable Merrick to go to the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine in London and study for a Masters of Science degree in soil mechanics and engineering seismology.

Merrick believes his current geotechnical experience gained whilst working at Beca as a specialist in soil mechanics and foundation engineering will be greatly enhanced by gaining a thorough grounding in the theory of soil mechanics, and soil behaviour during a seismic event. He aims to develop an in-depth knowledge of this complex field to the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“The big question for me is in the structure-soil interaction in any problem, these tend to be the most fascinating, and the most difficult,” he said Merrick.

“Engineering seismology is of particular relevance to New Zealand’s precarious position – located on the boundary of two colliding tectonic plates. Evaluating Seismic Risk and providing design solutions to mitigate that risk is a New Zealand speciality in civil engineering. It is a skill set that is of great long-term benefit for not only New Zealand, but also the developing world in Asia, where New Zealand companies are continuing to win work – both commercial and aid development projects,” he said.

“Geotechnical engineering is a relatively small profession in New Zealand, but is crucial that we have specialists here in this field.

“In the past this Masters course was regularly attended by New Zealanders, and many of the graduates now hold senior positions in the industry here. However, recently there has been a reduction of engineers sponsored to study there, so this Hume Award is a wonderful opportunity,” said Merrick.

Merrick begins his 12-month study in October this year.

Notes for journalists

Hume Fellowship

The Hume Fellowship was established in 1988 by Henrietta Hume and her late husband Harry Lancelot Hume, a fellow of IPENZ who led a distinguished career in the Ministry of Works until his retirement in 1966. As former Harkness Fellows, both Harry and Henrietta studied in USA, their hope for the Hume Fellowship was for international understanding to be forwarded through the provision of international opportunities for education and travel to young men and women of character and ability.


The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) is the professional body which represents professional engineers from all disciplines in New Zealand. The Institution sets internationally bench-marked qualifying standards for degree qualifications in engineering, and serves engineers by securing formal recognition for their professional standing. IPENZ provides services for about 9000 members.


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