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Teaching Building Professionals Design of Earthquake Resistant Buildings: Haiti Experience

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Instructional Innovations and Global Issues in Architectural Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1138.1 - 23.1138.16



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Paper Authors


James P. Mwangi P.E. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Dr. James Mwangi received his Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of Nairobi at Kenya, a Master's of Science degree from the University of Lagos at Nigeria and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of California, Davis, all in in Civil Engineering (structures).
Dr. Mwangi is currently an associate professor in the Architectural Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in concrete, steel, timber and masonry. He is a registered civil engineer and a registered structural engineer in the state of California.
Dr. Mwangi is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of Central California, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, the Structural Engineers Institute and active member of the Masonry Society (TMS), serving as a voting member on the Masonry Standards Joint Committee and on the TMS’s Technical Activities Committee.
Dr. Mwangi is a certified Disaster Service Worker (Safety Assessment Program) for the state of California Emergency Management Agency. His other interests are in post-disaster structural mitigation and consulting structural engineering.

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Teaching Building Professionals Design of Earthquake Resistant Buildings: Haiti ExperienceAbstractWhen the strongest earthquake in over two hundred and sixty years struck the Caribbean islandnation of Haiti in January 2010, part of the devastation was measured in hundreds of thousandsof human lives lost as a result of the hundreds of thousands of buildings that were totallydestroyed or severely damaged.Investigation as to why the buildings failed revealed that building professionals were not familiarwith design and construction of buildings to resist earthquake loadings. Most of the buildings(some as tall as five stories) were not engineered and were built using poor quality materials andby unskilled contractors. No official building code was (and is) available in Haiti and noinspection of building construction was ever conducted by the authority in charge of buildings.As the reconstruction and repair of the damaged homes had to start soon after the earthquake, itwas important to educate all the stakeholders on the design and construction of earthquakeresistant buildings in order to avoid such a catastrophe during the next earthquake.This paper presents unique teaching methods used to teach Haitian practicing buildingprofessionals (architects, engineers and contractors) as well as home owners, governmentbuilding officials and engineering students at the state university and other professional tradeschools the basic but important aspects of design and construction of earthquake resistant oneand two-story concrete and concrete masonry unengineered confined-masonry buildings.The classes were offered in form of one-week workshops that had both classroom setting andthree days of hands-on learning that included field visit and hands-on experience in theconstruction procedures. Graduates of the program were given jobs to construct new homes orrepair damaged homes and then tested after a few projects in order to assess the success of thetraining program. The trainings as presented were found to be successful.

Mwangi, J. P. (2013, June), Teaching Building Professionals Design of Earthquake Resistant Buildings: Haiti Experience Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22523

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