How would you teach high school students about typhoon engineering?

A couple of high school students are pursuing a project that aim to "find a solution of house structural problems during natural disasters, especially typhoons, in the Asia-Pacific region, by narrowing our focus to one of the elements of the house, i.e. roof, walls, or posts," and they asked the following questions.

I should first mention that I am speaking based on my personal experiences and knowledge only; I am not speaking for any organisation. Also, these are based on experiences in the Philippines, which is probably the most typhoon-prone country in this region. But at the same time, consider that the Philippines is economically faring better than a few other countries in the same region.


An engineer's dilemma. Any thoughts?

A contact on Facebook posts photos of his "dream home," located in earthquake-prone Philippines. Problem is, it's all concrete hollow block (CHB / CMU / concrete masonry unit) walls. Filled and reinforced, I'm sure. But, no reinforced concrete columns? Based on what I know, this kind of construction is not safe at all, specially in earthquake-prone countries. Or even if it had (and it didn't) have reinforced concrete columns, they still require proper seismic design. These all-masonry wall systems are just bound to collapse when the next big one happens. What do I do? Do I become the bearer of bad news? Do I give unsolicited advice? The problem also is that who knows when the next big one will happen, right? If nothing big occurs during our lifetime, then, well it would seem I am wrong, after all, no? What to do, what to do.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.


"Typhoon Engineering" in the Philippines

Here's a video of a presentation I made 2 years ago at a workshop on "Wind-Related Disaster Risk Reduction" in the Asia-Pacific region.


"High-rise" and "tall" buildings, and the 10 worst collapses in history

Image from Wikipedia
What makes medical practice better? The fact that doctors have made a ton of fatal mistakes that has cost lives. And they learned from those mistakes. That's pretty much how it is for civil engineers, and particularly in this case, for structural engineers. If you think doctors and engineers know everything and can't make mistakes, you're thinking wrong. Doctors and engineers and other professionals are researching, discovering, and learning new things everyday.

Anyway, check out this list on bestonlineengineeringdegree.com of the 10 worst high-rise building collapses in history. If in case the link stops working, you can try this Google-cached copy of the webpage:


What is wind engineering? - Tribute to the "father of wind engineering"

The Jack E. Cermak Medal.
Image courtesy of ASCE.
"Wind Engineering is best defined as the rational treatment of the interactions between wind in the atmospheric boundary layer and man and his works on the surface of earth."

That is at least how Prof. Jack E. Cermak, considered the "father of wind engineering," defined it. But at the same time it is how wind engineering has come to be known to its practitioners. It is with sadness though that Prof. Cermak has passed on earlier this week.


What is structural design?

The Moriyama House, Tokyo. One of
the projects of Structured Environment.
Image from Danda.
I listened to a lecture recently by Dr. Alan Burden, a Japan-educated British, and founder of Structured Environment, a Japan/UK-based structural design firm. Here's his take on what is structural design.


More (bridge) structural engineering: load testing a 7.3-meter long bridge made entirely out of cardboard

I recently talked about simple bridge design software and a bridge design game on RAW, where you can have some structural engineering fun. Here, sit back and relax while a professor and his students load test a bridge they designed and constructed entirely out of cardboard boxes. Don't worry folks, no one was injured.


International Workshop on Railway Aerodynamics

The University of Birmingham logo,
image as found on Wikipedia.
A message from Prof. Chris Baker, Professor of Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, at the University of Birmingham, UK:


Crosswinds and Thunderstorms

The mitigation of crosswind and thunderstorm effects are at least two things that wind engineers (i.e. civil engineers with a wind engineering background) and aerospace/aeronautics engineers have in common. Here are a couple of articles talking about some issues airplanes, their engineers/designers, and their pilots have been encountering.


"Engineers are cool"

This is a video produced by Arup, the engineering consulting firm, for the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers' (HKIE) 2009 Presidential Address. The video's creators said they aimed to showcase some of the interesting and exciting things that engineers do.


Why projects always get delayed and engineers always have to do overtime work

Image hosted on Quora.com
In addition to clients usually wanting projects done yesterday, this is quite a nice, realistic list that we would all need to realistically deal with eventually in our lives as civil engineers:


It is of course seemingly talking about software development, but you can just exchange "developer" with "engineer" and "code" with "design" and it immediately becomes applicable to most engineering professions, civil engineering included.