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Title: Enhancing Student Preparedness Through Experiential Learning: Lessons Learned from Assessing Building Structural Damages after the January-May 2020 Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is exposed to multiple hazards including hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. The Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainability Education Undergraduate Program (RISE-UP) at the University of Puerto Rico aims to introduce students to interdisciplinary problem-solving related to real challenges, especially those associated with the occurrence of natural disasters. The objective of this work is to share our experience with experiential learning related to structural engineering. The lessons learned from this experience, from the student ́s perspective, could encourage faculty members to develop similar undertakings in their programs and students to participate when opportunities arise. During the 2019 fall semester, we enrolled in a course which covered the relationship between design and natural disasters, with an emphasis on rapid response to recover during the aftermath. The course combined lectures and in-class exercises on basic structural analysis, classifications of structures and the use of the FEMA Rapid Visual Screening (P-154) form. This was complemented with field visits of structures affected by Hurricane Maria where we developed several case studies. From December of 2019 to February 2020, Puerto Rico suffered an earthquake swarm reaching magnitudes as high as 6.4, which caused structural damages throughout the South West of the island. Following these events, we more » were able to use the training acquired during our course in a real-life, post-disaster situation. At the University, we participated in visual inspection brigades, where we aided professional engineers and faculty members in data collection and categorizing building damages. Our involvement helped streamline efforts as we provided additional support in report writing and organization of the data collected using GIS and other tools. The results of the visual inspections indicated that in many cases pre- existing conditions were aggravated by the earthquakes. Furthermore, we also witnessed firsthand the complexities of assessing infrastructure damage during and following high seismic activity. This experience enhanced our awareness of the significance of our profession in ensuring the safety of others both immediately after an earthquake and in the face of future disasters. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1832468
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10192053
Journal Name:
18th LACCEI International Multi-Conference for Engineering, Education, and Technology
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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