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Top Earthquake Engineers Share Decade Of Seismic Progress

Hundreds of top earthquake engineers are gathering in Christchurch this week to share knowledge and make New Zealand seismically more resilient.

“Earthquake engineering in New Zealand has made huge leaps and we have learned many lessons since the Canterbury earthquakes, but there are still plenty of challenges and new solutions ahead,” says Helen Ferner, President of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE).

This year’s annual conference, on April 14-16, will be hosted at the University of Canterbury, which became a global focal point for earthquake engineers and will be themed: Turning Challenges Into Positive Legacies.

“The conference provides an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes 10 years on, review the lessons learnt from the event and over the subsequent decade, and, most importantly, look to the future work that needs to be done for a seismically resilient Aotearoa,” says Ferner.

The conference is supported by the Earthquake Commission and will host a who-is-who in earthquake engineering, bringing together the brightest and most experienced engineers from universities and practice.

“And just as important, there will be a large group of the next generation of young engineers eager to soak up all this knowledge,” says Ferner.

To test this new breed, NZSEE has organised a design competition in which teams of young professional engineers and post-graduate students are asked to design and construct a scale model building.

The models will then be tested to destruction on a shake table at the University of Canterbury during the Thursday lunch break. (An example of a similar competition can be viewed here:

The speakers will cover a wide variety of seismic engineering issues from structural, and geotechnical to seismic hazard, and will also focus on social science subjects relating to post-earthquake response and recovery.

EQC’s Chief Resilience and Research Officer, Dr Jo Horrocks, says that engineers are at the forefront of ensuring that New Zealanders have stronger buildings and homes.

“Over the past 10 years there have been many advances and innovations in how we build. EQC is very pleased to be a key supporter of bringing together so many engineers to freely share their knowledge for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“We will always be living with earthquake risk, but engineering advances in how we build and where we build can do a lot to reduce the impact of future earthquakes on people and property,” she says.

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