Today's the last day that you get your questions answered, so make sure you send them in! It's been so nice speaking to you all over the last 2 weeks!
Arup (engineering consultancy), Balfour Beatty (engineering contractor).
Research Earthquake Engineer
University College London and World Bank
I try and work out how buildings in amazing foreign countries will behave in earthquakes – will they fall down or will they stand up?
In particular, I study the best ways to assess the behaviour of buildings under the shaking that earthquakes produce. Like we have recently seen in Nepal, earthquakes can cause a lot of building damage and can kill many people if they are unsafe.
My Typical Day
Drink tea, look at buildings, use a tape measure, draw sketches, more tea, engineer, model, calculate, sleep (repeat?).
On a typical working day in the field I will visit a number of buildings, look at them, look at the materials used (concrete, bricks, etc) and try to work out how they will behave in an earthquake. When in the office in the UK I will investigate and learn about the different methods used to assess buildings and will think creatively about whether they are good or useful. I will model existing buildings on the computer and apply a virtual earthquake to them to see how they behave.
What I'd do with the money
Buy/make a table that shakes electronically (a shake table), on which you build a model of a building (see one in the pictures below made of fruitella and chocolate), start the earthquake, and then watch them fall over.
If I win I’ll use the money to build a shake table like this one but way better – click for a video!
A shake table is a flat platform that simulates the shaking from an earthquake. In the past I have shown school groups how buildings behave in earthquakes by constructing model buildings from fruitella ‘bricks’ and dairy milk ‘roofs’ and shaken the table to see how they fall over. Using a shake table would make the process more authentic, engaging, realistic, and fun!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, excitable, talkative.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Everything Taylor Swift!
What's your favourite food?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I love travelling, and I have been to many incredible countries with my job. I loved Nepal and Nicaragua the most.
What did you want to be after you left school?
An olympic athlete.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Very rarely, mostly for being late!
What's the best thing you've done as an engineer?
Worked with people to help make their communities safer against a future earthquake.
If you weren't an engineer, what would you be?
Tell us a joke.
I took the shell off my racing snail, thinking it would make him run faster. If anything, it made him more sluggish.
This is a school building that I assessed for earthquake safety in Montserrat in the West Indies:
This is me working with local engineers on the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean earlier this year:
This is me playing with one of the children in a community that I worked with in Nepal:
This is me in a meeting in Nicaragua where we met with the government engineers to discuss earthquake safety:
This is an example of a model of a brick building, where we have used fruitella and chocolate, to demonstrate how buildings fall down in earthquakes: