Friday, January 30, 2009

Introducing Structural Engineering

At DLSU-Manila, we hold a forum promoting the various specializations in civil engineering - Hydraulics and Water Resources (HWR), Transportation Engineering (TRE), Construction Technology and Management (CTM), Geotechnical Engineering (GTE) and Structural Engineering (STE). I was tasked to present the STE specialization. To introduce the STE specialization, I created a short video using Power Director and presented this during the forum.
So you want to be a structural engineer? Watch the video and explore the world of the structural engineer and how he changes the world.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tales of Disasters: Earthquake!

Here is another film made by No Strings for programmes in South East Asia and funded by Trocaire. The movie is about Badu and the Little Girl who experienced an earthquake. It is a movie on earthquake preparedness and response. Watch this with your kids.

This video was accessed at

Friday, January 16, 2009

ASEP 14th International Convention - Call for Abstracts

The Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (ASEP) on its 47th year is hosting the 14th ASEP International Convention with the theme, “Structural Engineering: Coping with the Global Crisis” on May 21-22, 2009. In this regard, you are invited to submit an abstract and full paper (later) for presentation during the convention.
Topics of papers on structural engineering which address innovative approaches of coping with the global crisis and problems - financial, political, environmental, climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, poverty and sustainability - are welcome.
Specific topics include: Performanced-based design, Retrofitting and Strengthening, Structural Failures, Structural Risk, Natural Hazards and Disaster Rsis Mitigation, ISO Standards and Codes of Practice, Earthquake and Wind Engineering, Value Engineering, Engineering Ethics, Urban Planning and Infrastructure Development, Fire, Impact and Blast Loads, Case Studies on High-Rise Buildings and Long-Span Bridges, Prestresses and Pre-cast Construction, Foundation and Geotechnical Issues.

Deadline of Submission of Abstracts: 14 February 2009
Deadline of Submission of Full Papers: 24 March 2009

Send abstracts to:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Disasters and Development

One of the videos in "Understanding Earthquakes and Disasters: Photo-Video Presentations for Public Awareness and Education" is entitled "Disasters and Development."
Natural disasters occur if society is highly vulnerable to the hazards. When a disaster occurs, the development and the economy of the country and local community is affected. As a country develops, the population increases and more infrastructures are constructed, and these may increase vulnerability to the hazards. . Understanding the relationship between disasters and development is important in designing a comprehensive disaster risk mitigation program.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tales of Disasters: Tsunami!

I joined a social network - Coalition for Global School Safety & Disaster Prevention Education and learned of the various initiatives around the world in promoting disaster awareness to the public especailly in schools through the world wide web. I found interesting videos created by No Strings, a group of puppeteers who use colorful and engaging adventure films to teach life-saving messages to children.
Here is the first video on Tsunami. The story centers on Badu, a likeable but lazy villager who teaches by negative example and a Little Girl who is aware of natural hazards and disasters and their signs and effects. Watch this video with your kids as this is really very informative.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Designing for Safety & Stability Leads to Sustainability

Today, there is an increasing demand for engineers to focus their efforts on the protection and preservation of the environment. The civil engineering community, which includes structural engineers, plays a major role in maintaining the balance and harmony between the built and existing natural environment. The built environment, which includes infrastructures such as residential houses, high-rise buildings, long-span bridges, roads and expressways, and large civil structures like dams and reservoirs, provide for a livable atmosphere for all. However, the impact of these infrastructures on the natural environment especially in natural hazard-prone countries like the Philippines should be a concern. Richardson (2002) summarizes the realities of infrastructure impact on the environment as follows: It is said that 50% of the world population lives in cities today and this may grow to 75% by 2030. Cities are said to cause 75% of the world’s pollution and consume 75% of the world’s energy. Buildings are reported to produce 40% of the world’s CO2, consume 50% of the energy derived from fossil fuels, consume 3 billion tons of raw materials in construction each year and consume 75% of all energy used through artificial lighting, heating and cooling every day. 25% of all wood harvested is used in building construction.

The negative impact of infrastructures on the environment aggravates especially when natural disasters occur. Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, typhoons, tsunamis and landslides spoil both the built and natural environment. Aside from causing numerous deaths and injuries to people, natural disasters had caused the destruction of important infrastructures such as buildings, bridges and roads and devastation of nature which contributed to environmental degradation. The 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan caused 2,415 deaths, 1,441 severely wounded, US$9.2 billion worth of damage, 44,338 houses completely destroyed and 41,336 houses severely damaged. The 2001 Gujarat earthquake in India was the most devastating earthquake in India in recent history. The quake destroyed 90 percent of the homes in Bhuj, several schools, and flattened a hospital. Gujarat's commercial capital and a city of 4.5 million, as many as 50 multistory buildings collapsed and several hundred people were killed. In the July 16, 1990 earthquake in the Philippines, damage to buildings, infrastructures, and properties amounted to at least P 10B. The Hyogo-ken Nanbu earthquake in Japan which hit the city of Kobe and surrounding areas in Hyogo prefecture on January 17, 1995 cause the collapse of nearly 55,000 houses in the city of Kobe. The cost of reconstruction of buildings alone was roughly estimated at between US $61-70 billion.

As a consequence of the destruction brought about by natural disasters, the natural resources, materials and energy that have been utilized in constructing these infrastructures have been put to waste. Moreover, the large amount of disaster-caused waste and debris poses another environmental problem. The most severe natural disasters generate debris in quantities that can overwhelm existing solid waste management facilities or force communities to use disposal options that otherwise would not be acceptable.

How may structural and civil engineers contribute towards the reduction of these negative impacts in a region where natural disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis and landslides are prevalent? Structural and civil engineers have significantly contributed towards the protection and conservation of the natural environment especially when we consider the impact of natural disasters. on infrastructures and the environment. Civil and structural engineers, when they properly design structures and foundations for safety and stability, are actually contributing significantly to the preservation of the natural environment. Proper analysis, design and construction of structures will minimize damage or collapse. Refined modeling, testing and analysis of soil may prevent foundation failures. Strengthening and improvement of unstable slopes will control the occurrence of landslides. When structures are strengthened or retrofitted, the usable life of the structure is extended reducing end-of-life waste. These primary responsibilities of structural and civil engineers regarding safety and stability, in the end, leads to the reduction of non-renewable natural resources consumption and minimizing the accumulation of construction waste and disaster-caused debris waste. The responsibility of structural and civil engineers in designing for safety and stability and the role they play concerning the maintenance of environment especially in disaster-prone countries must be appreciated by everyone including the so-called “environmentalists.”

This article was published at the Philippine Star, Star Science Column, 6 March 2008