Where are you from?
I am from Cuenca, Ecuador. Cuenca is a relatively small city compared with cities in other countries. However, it is the third largest city in Ecuador. It is in the middle of the Andes mountains. For that reason, four rivers cross the city and you can see mountains close to the borders of the city.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
UB’s facilities, including the library, are awesome and students have access to almost all of them. In terms of civil engineering, the professors are very good, and the structural and earthquake laboratory (which is the one that I know the most) is spectacular.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
I specifically chose civil engineering because I grew up looking at and living the development of civil engineering projects because my father is a civil engineer. I chose structural and earthquake engineering because I wanted to know how materials work and how they can be used to build different civil projects in my country, which is in an active seismic zone.
What is your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place on campus is at the columns by Lake LaSalle on the North Campus. That place has a nice view, and it is quiet – it’s a great place to go and think. Related to engineering, my favorite place is the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory. It is a place that makes me feel limitless because almost all kinds of structures can be tested there.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a new seismic protection system for bridges. This system incorporates the use of buckling-restrained braces (a special type of braces) in different configurations. These braces work as fuses; in the event of an earthquake, they get damaged instead of other parts of the bridge. As a result, after an earthquake, the bridge will be totally operational even in the case that the braces need to be replaced.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
This is a complex question since I am proud of many things. In general, I am proud of the decisions I’ve made throughout my life which, good and bad, have helped me grow. As a result of all these decisions, I am here at UB finishing my PhD studies. Regarding my time at UB, I am proud of the research that I am doing and how it is going because it was a challenge for me. Hopefully, my studies will result in countries all around the world, particularly poor countries, being more resilient to an earthquake event.
Has there been a particular faculty member that has been formative during your time at UB?
My advisor, SUNY Distinguished Professor Michel Bruneau, has been very formative. He is extremely organized, professional in the way he behaves, and extremely observant. From him, I’m learning how those skills can be used effectively in research, civil engineering, and life.
What are you passionate about?
In terms of profession and hobby, I am passionate about two things: martial arts and civil engineering. I am here at UB because of civil engineering – I love the idea of being able to analyze and design a structure such that it can be built and perform as it was expected to in the design phase.
What are your future plans?
I would have a quick response four years ago, but now that I am close to the end of my studies those plans have changed a little and a straight answer is quite complicated. Now, for the short-term, I am open to different possible opportunities either in academia or in the industry (although, I would love to do both at the same time). I want to have some experience working in the U.S. before returning to my home country due to my scholarship terms. In the long-term (in 30 to 40 years from now), I would like to be able to provide scholarships to people with limited resources in my country.
What is your advice for prospective students?
Think big and be persistent until the proposed goal is reached. In general, pursuing a goal is complicated, so persist!
Carrión Cabrera is the recipient of a Fulbright-SENESCYT Scholarship, a combined scholarship from the U.S. and the Ecuadorian government. He came to UB in 2017.