Panel Discussion: Earthquake Engineering

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The RedR Speaker Series is an opportunity for skilled humanitarian professionals to share their experience in the sector.

RedR has a long history working with and supporting engineers in humanitarian contexts. Our most recent RedTalk: Earthquake Engineering, saw an expert panel explore and discuss an engineer’s role in the various stages of earthquake response and prevention.

Andrew Hodgkinson, Joshua Macabuag, Carlos Molina Hutt and Katherine Coates drew on their expertise and experiences in the field to examine the disaster cycle as it relates to earthquakes.

The first days following an earthquake ...

The discussion was initially kicked off by panel chair, Andrew Hodgkinson, Director with event sponsor Hewson Consulting Engineers. Drawing on Hewson's experience in delivering projects in earthquake prone areas, Andrew highlighted the devastating impact of recent earthquakes, and the importance of earthquake prevention through seismic design.

Josh Macabuag, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Engineer at SARAID and UCL EPICentre member, works in Urban Search and Rescue teams made up of specialist engineers, highly trained sniffer dogs and local specialists. Drawing on his experiences following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Josh discussed the engineer’s role in, and the complexities of locating casualties in collapsed buildings, conducting building risk assessments and carrying out entombed causality recovery operations.

This is a man-made problem, and there has to be a man-made solution.

Elizabeth Hausler

Founder & CEO of Build Change

Structural Assessments

Carlos Molina Hutt followed this to talk through an engineer’s duty to carry out post-disaster structural assessments. Carlos is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Structural and Earthquake Engineering at University College London (UCL). From his experience as part of the EU Civil Protection Team responding to the Ecuador earthquake in 2016, Carlos explained the logistics of assessing and tagging damaged buildings. He also touched on the social reasonability and impact an engineer has following an earthquake, including carrying out rapid structural assessments to allow residents to swiftly return to their homes with assurance of the building’s structural safety.

Katherine Coates speaks on the importance of seismic design for earthquake-prone regions
Katherine Coates speaks on the importance of seismic design for earthquake-prone regions

"Earthquake risk [reduction] and preparedness has to come from the people and has to be driven by communities" - Katherine Coates

Katherine Coates, Associate Director and Earthquake Engineer at Arup, concluded our overview of the earthquake engineering disaster cycle by exploring issues within seismic design. Katherine discussed how earthquakes differ from other disaster events and how earthquake ramifications and consequences have differed depending on a country’s earthquake awareness and economic state. Katherine further discussed the importance of local communities’ role in the process of change in seismic design.

Thanks to all those who attended on the evening, and to Hewson Consulting Engineers for sponsoring the event. If you were unable to attend, there is no need to worry! Recordings of the entire event can be found here.

If you are interested in hearing about future RedR events, please contact our Membership team.