UB engineers investigate performance of buildings in Mexico City following earthquake

By Peter Murphy

Published October 10, 2017

“We’re proud to have alumni and other UB associates who continue the tradition of excellence and professional engagement associated with MCEER and CSEE.”
Joseph Atkinson, Professor and Chair
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Andreas Stavridis, an assistant professor in UB’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, traveled to Mexico City this week to investigate damage following the 7.1 magnitude earthquake there on September 19, 2017. Stavridis and UB graduate student Homero Fernando Carrion Cabrera are part of a reconnaissance team of experts organized by the Applied Technology Council (ATC).

The team is charged with collecting detailed information on structural design, vibration properties, site and seismological characteristics, strong ground motion records, and performance of engineered reinforced concrete structures that are relevant to ongoing ATC projects funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  It is anticipated that this data collection effort will allow for comprehensive follow-up studies in ways that have rarely, if ever, been possible before.

In addition, two of the three team leaders and coordinators are graduates of UB’s Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE) doctoral program; Sissy Nikolaou, (PhD ‘98), PE, leads the group as the U.S. off-site coordinator, and Rodolfo Valles Mattox (PhD ‘95) is in a similar position as the Mexico on-site leader. Stavridis represents UB and MCEER, as one of ten research institutions and engineering firms participating in the ATC-led investigation.

Nikolaou sits on the CSEE department advisory board, a team of UB CSEE alumni and industry and governmental professionals who provide advice and guidance to the department. She also holds roles in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and ATC. She is a principal and fellow with WSP, where she leads the firm’s multi-hazard resilience engineering practice.

Valles Mattox, who received his PhD in 1995 with a concentration in structural and earthquake engineering, specializing in seismic engineering, is the managing director of Integral Design and Applied Technology (DITEC), a WSP company based in Mexico.

Stavridis’ research interests focus on assessment and improvement of the seismic performance of existing and new reinforced concrete and masonry structures, structural dynamics and earthquake engineering, the use of sustainable and innovative materials for civil applications, finite element and simplified modeling of structures, and condition assessment and retrofit of existing structures.

“We have a number of alumni and faculty helping to improve the earthquake resiliency of communities affected by major earthquakes. This is an honor and opportunity that members of the department and MCEER do not take for granted,” said Joseph Atkinson, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. “We’re proud to have alumni and other UB associates who continue the tradition of excellence and professional engagement associated with MCEER and CSEE.”

The trip is funded through the ATC Endowment Fund. According to a press release from the organization, “Although our focus is on engineering issues, we are cognizant of ongoing response and recovery efforts. Through investigations such as this, we hope to contribute to the state-of-knowledge for avoiding losses in future earthquakes, both in the United States and internationally.”

About the ATC

The ATC is a nonprofit corporation established in 1973 by the Structural Engineers Association of California. The organization’s mission is to develop and promote state-of-the-art engineering resources and solutions to mitigate the effects of natural and man-made hazards on the built environment. ATC identifies and encourages innovative research, and helps to develop expert consensus on structural engineering issues.

To learn more about the team investigating building performance in Mexico City, click here