Faculty

The President’s Committee on Diversity hosted the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Luncheon on January 17, 2016. In addition to celebrating Dr. King’s work, the event honored Mines community members who are exceptional in their appreciation for diversity and understanding its value on campus.

MLK speech in Friedhoff Hall

What started as a small breakfast gathering in 2004 to celebrate diversity and community on MLK Day has turned into a well-known campus tradition 13 years later. Since 2008, Mines has held a breakfast and an awards ceremony recognizing select members of the Mines community.  Members of the community are nominated for the MLK Recognition Award, and the MLK Day Planning Committee selects the winners.

This year, the inspirational “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. was broadcast on the monitors in Friedhoff Hall after the recipients received their awards. The moving speech was an ideal way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his movement towards equality and diversity.

The 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Recognition Award Recipients are:

Holly Eklund, Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics. Eklund was nominated by a fellow AMS faculty member for her extensive involvement in the Multicultural Engineering Program. She was described as “not only a mathematics instructor, but also as a friend and mentor to the students in the program.” Eklund is also a valued CSM101 mentor and faculty advisor for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers student chapter.

Iker Madera, a senior in Geophysics was nominated by a fellow student because of his “interest in reaching out to children of underrepresented groups to encourage their involvement in STEM.”

Blake Jones, a junior in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering was nominated by a fellow student for his goal is to increase recognition of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (oSTEM) on campus. He was described as an “advocate for LGBTQ rights, education and inclusion,” as well as “the only student on campus certified to give SafeZone training.”

Nominated by a faculty member, students Hannah Grover, Jessica Deters, Jacquie Feuerborn, Izabel Aguiar and Joanna Clark were selected for their work as executive officers of the campus club, Equality Through Awareness. The goal of the club is to address issues facing minorities in STEM, including gender, ethnic and racial minorities.

MLK "I have a dream..." post cards
To encourage reflection on Dr. King’s powerful words, attendees were asked to complete the sentence “I have a dream…” on postcards, filling in their own desires for equality and social justice.

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

Tina Gianquitto

Tina Gianquitto, an associate professor in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Division (formerly Liberal Arts and International Studies) at Colorado School of Mines was awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant and will be traveling to Naples, Italy this spring. She will be working with the American literature faculty at la Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale, teaching a graduate-level course on American literature and the environment, in addition to a PhD seminar.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is composed of merit-based grants that support international education exchange for students, teachers, professionals and scholars. Founded in 1946 by United States Senator J. William Fulbright, this scholarship program aims to support relations between U.S. professionals and those of other countries.

Gianquitto was inspired to pursue teaching in high school. “My senior English teacher was an elderly nun,” she explained. “In class one day, she read a Dylan Thomas poem, ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,’ and she was just so riveting.  She taught me so much that I thought, ‘I want to do that.’”

After attending Columbia University and writing her dissertation on women nature writers in the nineteenth century, Gianquitto took a teaching job at Vassar College in New York. However, when the opportunity presented itself to come to Mines, “it was a simple decision to come to a school like Mines where I could teach the coming together of literature, science and the environment,” she said. “It was a dream job.”

Tina Gianquitto delivers a talk on her co-edited book, “America’s Darwin”.
Tina Gianquitto delivers a talk on her co-edited
book, "America's Darwin".

“Dr. Gianquitto is a valued member of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Division at Mines,” said College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering Dean Ramona Graves. “Her commitment to the students and broadening the scope of thinking of engineers and scientists is exemplary. As director of the Hennebach Program in the Humanities, Tina plays a major role in providing our students with the social science background necessary to complement their technical degrees, always leading with her passion to instill some of her own excitement into these future leaders.”

Gianquitto kept an eye on the Fulbright Scholar Program for years, and when the unique opportunity arose to teach at Università degli Studi di Napoli L'Orientale, it was almost too good to be true. “They were looking for someone who works in the interdisciplinary fields of American environmental literature, gender and transatlantic studies,” Gianquitto explained. “These fields map almost fully onto my own, and I thought ‘this is a perfect opportunity.’” On June 23, 2016, Gianquitto got the news that she was being offered the Fulbright scholarship, which was an “utter and complete shock,” she said. 

Gianquitto leaves for Italy in February 2017 and looks forward to conducting research on U.S. woman volcanologists of the 19th century while in Naples, teaching classes in American environmental literature, guest lecturing in Europe and hopefully becoming fluent in a foreign language. In addition to teaching, Gianquitto is excited to explore the city of Naples and engage with peers in her field on an international level. She noted in her application that she will “Investigate American studies from a global perspective by engaging with Italian students and colleagues, consider global environmentalism as reflected in comparisons between local and distant landscapes and finally consider how other U.S. women might have traversed similar landscapes seeking both knowledge and cultural exchange in an earlier century.”

Gianquitto is thankful to the Mines administration for supporting her dream to teach abroad and to apply for the Fulbright Scholar Program. “Dean Graves encouraged me to apply and everyone has been incredibly supportive of this fellowship opportunity,” she said.

Mines’ professors continue to achieve great things, and as a result, the school continues to shine.

 

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088 lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

 
AMAX Distinguished Chair and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Tissa Illangasekare was named a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board by U.S. President Barak Obama on January 6, 2017.
 
The U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board is an independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government. Its sole purpose is to perform independent scientific and technical peer review of the Department of Energy's program for managing and disposing of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel and provide findings and recommendations to Congress, the Secretary of Energy, and the interested public.
 
According to the White House press release, President Obama said, “I am pleased to announce that these experienced and committed individuals have decided to serve our country. I know they will serve the American people well.”
 
Illangasekare is also the director of the Centre for the Experimental Study of Subsurface Environmental Processes, and has previously served on the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences. He joined Colorado School of Mines in 1998, and is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Association for Advancement of Science.
 
 
Andrea Christine Blaine, research assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and assistant director of WE²ST Research Center at Colorado School of Mines, passed away Thursday, December 22, after a five-year-battle with cancer.
 
Blaine first came to Mines in 1993 as an undergraduate from Houston, Texas. She went on to earn three degrees from Mines: a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, and a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Blaine also earned a MS in Horticulture from Colorado State University. 
 
Since 2014, Blaine served as assistant director of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST, mentoring and training undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows in water sustainability related to oil and gas operations. 
 
“We will all miss Andrea deeply as a friend and for her gifts to WE²ST and Mines,” said Terri Hogue, CEE professor and director of WE²ST. “Andrea embodied the word “teacher” and was a role model for all of us in our interactions with students, colleagues and family.”
 
A former high school teacher herself, Blaine was passionate about collaboration between academic researchers, industry leaders and K-12 teachers. She was Co-PI on the NSF-funded Water-Energy Education for the Next Generation, a Colorado School of Mines Research Experience for Teachers. She also led Mines students in their STEM outreach to local elementary schools, via Shelton’s Math & Science Night and Earth Day at Ralston Elementary.
 
Blaine’s career was strewn with awards and achievements. Among many publications, Blaine was the lead author of three Environmental Science & Technology articles. As a graduate student, Blaine received several scholarships and awards, including a research award from the EPA. Her research into the accumulation of perfluorochemicals into crops blended her love of chemistry, engineering and horticulture, and has been used to inform public health policies in Colorado and beyond. 
 
“Andrea’s work was truly groundbreaking, and will have a lasting impact on the scientific community,” said Chris Higgins, associate professor of CEE and Blaine’s PhD advisor. “She exemplified what it means to be an Oredigger: a scholar, a teacher, and an all-around great person. She will be missed.”
 
Blaine was chosen as the Favorite Professor in CEE by The Oredigger student survey in 2014. Prior to coming back to Mines for her graduate work, Blaine was co-department chair for the Math & Pre-Engineering Department at Bear Creek High school, helping pilot the Project Lead the Way for Jefferson County School District. As an undergraduate, she was the outstanding graduating senior in chemical engineering, a member of the McBride Honors Program and Blue Key National Honor Society and received the Mines Outstanding Female Athlete award her senior year.
 
More than all her achievements, though, Blaine will be remembered for her passion for education, her devotion to family and her compassion as a friend.  
 
Blaine is survived by her husband, Jason Blaine, their children, Star and Antonio Blaine, and her parents, Steve and Betty Crowell.
 
A service celebrating Blaine's life will be held at 2 p.m., December 31, at First Presbyterian Church of Golden (17707 W. 16th Avenue, Golden). 
 
 

CONTACT:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines has received a $7.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a University Transportation Center (UTC), focused on improving the durability and lifespan of underground transportation.

James R. Paden Distinguished Professor Marte Gutierrez from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is the lead on this interdisciplinary project that draws on the expertise and reputation of Mines’ Center for Underground Construction and Tunneling (UC&T).

“This is such a huge win for Mines,” said Professor Mike Mooney, the Bruce Grewcock University Chair and Director of UC&T. “This is the first U.S. DOT funded center at Mines and the first ever U.S. DOT center focused on underground infrastructure. This effort will build upon the strong foundation of UC&T at Mines and cements UC&T and Mines as the number one place in the world for underground construction and tunneling research and education.”   

In collaboration with affiliate partners, California State University, Los Angeles and Lehigh University, the new center includes research, education and outreach to make underground construction and transportation safer, more sustainable and more cost-efficient.

“We are running out of land, especially in urban areas. The only way to meet increased demand for transportation is to go underground,” explained Gutierrez. “Underground transportation and infrastructure is key to reducing congestion and pollution.”

UC&T graduate students explore an underground construction site.

The center hopes to work closely with industry leaders to develop advanced technologies that would avoid the problems that often extend the time and cost of underground construction. “Our goal is to help the construction industry,” said Gutierrez, “by providing tools, methodologies and technology for underground construction. We want to partner with the industry so that we can apply our findings, as well as offer continuing education courses—that’s how technology transfer really happens.”

Mines’ UC&T, started in 2011 with generous initial support from Mines alumnus Bruce Grewcock, has been leading efforts toward a more adaptive design system in the field of underground construction and tunneling. Boreholes and geological/geophysical surveys provide limited information on ground conditions until excavation starts. Predicted responses often differ from the reality once a project is underway. Gutierrez is proposing the use of adaptive computational modeling to align design with the site-specific geology. 

“We want to exploit the new knowledge we gain every time we excavate,” said Gutierrez. “The design must adapt. As we improve our understanding of the site’s geology, the design also improves, ultimately avoiding the unexpected high costs and extended timelines that can occur when the natural and built environments do not match.”

The center will also look at extending the life of existing aging infrastructures and how transportation infrastructure can best be repaired with the least impact on congestion. Ultimately, with cooperation from industry, the UTC at Mines will lead to increased safety, reliability and sustainability in underground transportation infrastructures.

“Marte has done such a fantastic job leading the successful proposal effort and now leading a great cross-campus interdisciplinary team,” said Mooney, referencing the diverse expertise of the faculty members who are involved in the project: professors Hugh Miller, Jurgen Brune, Rennie Kaunda and Department Head Priscilla Nelson from Mining Engineering; Andrei Swidinsky from Geophysics; as well as the Co-PIs: Gabriel Walton and Wendy Zhou from Geology, Eunhye Kim from Mining, and Reza Hedayat, Panos Kiousis, and Shiling Pei from Civil and Environmental Engineering—in addition to Mooney and Gutierrez.

Mooney added, “The Mines community of current students and alumni out there shaping the future of underground infrastructure should all be very proud.”   

 

CONTACT:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

The presence of highly fluorinated organic chemicals, sometimes referred to as PFCs or poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), in groundwater continues to be a pressing issue for communities in Colorado and throughout the country. Faculty at Colorado School of Mines have led the research identifying the problem (Study finds high levels of toxic chemicals in drinking water) and, more recently, developing solutions (Mines tackles treating PFC-contaminated water).

Associate Professor Chris Higgins in his environmental engineering lab.

Now the Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) has awarded a three-year $1.5 million grant to Christopher Higgins, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to further investigate how PFASs are released, travel and react to other contaminants.

“The ultimate goal,” explained Higgins, “is to treat these PFAS sites.”

To do this effectively, Higgins and his team have proposed to first develop an understanding of how existing remediation technologies that are used to treat the co-occurring contaminants affect PFASs.

These co-contaminants include chlorinated solvents and fuel hydrocarbons, and are often found at sites where aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) has been used. PFASs have already had an impact on groundwater near military sites where AFFF was used, often mixed with these co-contaminants.

“My team will be conducting batch and column laboratory experiments, using field-collected groundwater and soil samples,” Higgins said. “We want to look closely not only at the compounds that are the focus of EPA Health Advisories, but also at how and under what conditions newly identified polyfluorinated PFASs are converted to the more problematic perfluorinated chemicals.”

Higgins will also investigate the interactions of PFASs with nonaqueous phase liquids, such as gasoline and oil. A fully synergistic remediation effort will require more data to develop technology to meet the sites’ requirements.

The research project, titled “Key Fate and Transport Processes Impacting the Mass Discharge, Attenuation, and Treatment of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances and Comingled Chlorinated Solvents or Aromatic Hydrocarbons,” is a collaboration between Mines, Oregon State University, CDM Smith and the University of California at Berkeley, with Higgins as the principal investigator.

A related project, also funded by SERDP, is being led by Jens Blotevogel, a research professor at Colorado State University, to treat PFCS with electrolysis-based technology.

Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program is the Department of Defense’s environmental science and technology program. It invests across a broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced development, in an effort to solve environmental challenges with innovative environmental technologies that enhance and sustain military readiness.

 

CONTACT:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu

Mines students volunteering as part of Hike for Help.

This winter break, 16 Mines students will spend their three-week vacation volunteering in Khumbu Valley, Nepal, constructing a public restroom facility for the local community and aiding in repairing the local high school that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2015. Mines is partnering with Hike for Help, an organization that connects with communities in Nepal to work on projects that will have a high impact on the Nepali community.

“There are no public restrooms in the Khumbu Valley, which is the trail that leads to Everest,” said Rachel Osgood, an assistant teaching professor in Mines’ Liberal Arts and International Studies Division. “The people that live there have pit toilets and no sanitation system, so they don’t drink enough water because they don't have anywhere to go to the bathroom.”

Osgood, who will lead students on this international service learning trip, recalled how the founder of the Hike for Help organization, Lhakpa Sherpa, also the owner of the Sherpa House restaurant in Golden, Colorado, was struck by students’ reactions to the pit toilets on a previous community service trip. “Sherpa got together with other local leaders in the Lukla and Khumbu Valley regions and talked about how beneficial [constructing a public restroom facility] would be for the people of the area, particularly in terms of tourism,” said Osgood. The Nepali community agreed that this would be a valuable addition, giving the project a green light.

A young boy playing with his kendama in Nepal.

When approached to help with this project, Mines reacted without hesitation, and the community service trip filled up quickly, mostly with McBride Honors students who are eager to travel to Nepal and make a difference. “I am most looking forward to returning to the area that I helped support with Hike for Help last winter,” said chemical engineering student Chase Li. Engineering physics student, Peter Consalvi added, “To go over there and build (from scratch) a restroom that is going to greatly benefit the valley, we have a great chance to really help someone.”

But this service trip will have many benefits for Mines students as well. Trinity Wilson, a chemical engineering student, admitted, “This experience [will be] far out of my comfort zone; it will take me further from the things and people I depend on and challenge me mentally and physically to face my fears.”

Since the students are required to cover their own travel expenses, all of the fundraising will be put towards the service project—the materials and labor. “It’s pretty expensive, because the cement has to be transported up the valley and the only way to get there is by walking with some yaks or flying in a really small passenger plane,” explained engineering physics student Matthew Kowalsky.

The eventual goal is to build 40 of these restrooms within the next few years throughout the valley. Osgood added, “We want to make this a sustainable relationship between our community and the community in Nepal, because we have a local connection and it hits close to home.

Check out the video below for more information about Hike for Help:

https://youtu.be/iDriqFNG6EE

To support Hike for Help in its fundraising efforts to obtain supplies to help local citizens of the Khumbu Valley, visit giving.mines.edu/goldmine.

 

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088 lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

 

 
The front cover of "They Joy of Science".Geophysics Professor and Interim Department Head Roel Snieder has coauthored “The Joy of Science: Seven Principles of Scientists Seeking Happiness, Harmony, and Success,” a book focused on helping scientists have a productive and fulfilling career by encouraging them to focus on the positive and minimize stress.
 
The book is now being used as a part of new faculty orientation at Mines and in several workshops held for the greater campus community.
 

“Let go of the concept of balance—instead, think of it as harmony,” Snieder told faculty and staff at a recent workshop. The faculty and staff were asked to complete a worksheet that had them weigh what they balance in life. Some examples were “e-mail vs. everything else,” “exercise vs. work” and “demands of the outside world vs. internal ambitions.”
One of the illustrations from the book, all done by Roel's brother, Janwillem Snieder. "Working under the commonly held belief that no matter how hard we work, it is never enough."
One of the illustrations from the book, all done by Roel's brother, Janwillem Snieder. "Working under the commonly held belief that no matter how hard we work, it is never enough." 

Snieder explained that rather than struggling to achieve the “balance” between things that may never come into line, we should instead aim to achieve “harmony,” the first principle outlined in the book.

A key point that Snieder and coauthor Jen Schneider, a former Mines faculty member, emphasize in the book is the idea that most of these stresses can be eliminated by a change in attitude.
 
“A lot of this is driven by our belief system,” explained Snieder in an interview. “For scientists, the belief system is—can be—very normative and weighing down on them. For example, there is this wide-held belief that you can only contribute if you’re the best—you have to be the best.”
 
Scientists and academics are inherently vying to be the best and putting themselves down if they are not, said Snieder. This is a huge problem in the scientific community because oftentimes you will end up with someone doing really important research, but it might never get out due to this lack of courage. 
 
“The fact that you can do something better, does not mean you’re not doing a good job,” Snieder told the group at the workshop. Ken Osgood, director of the McBride Honors Program at Mines, was one of the attendees.
 
“Roel has a marvelous and infectious perspective on life,” said Osgood. “'The Joy of Science' reflects that.  His book is a recipe for revitalizing so much of what we do – not just our work, research and teaching, but the quality and depth of thought that informs how we do these things.”
 
Although the book is targeted at scientists, its guiding principles are something that can be applied to a much broader community. The idea that one should focus on the positive impact one makes in one’s work rather than constantly overburdening oneself with stress from “not doing enough” is something everyone can learn from. 
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu

Professor Illangasekare (far right) receives the PSIPW Award from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Photo Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Professor Illangasekare (far right) receives the PSIPW Award from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moonPhoto Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Congratulations to Tissa Illangasekare, distinguished chair and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado School of Mines, who received the Groundwater Prize for the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW), one of the most prestigious awards for water research and the highest international honor in the field of groundwater.

Illangasekare received the award on Nov. 2, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, hosted by the U.N. Friends of Water and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Illangasekare was honored for his work to improve the fundamental understanding of fluid flow and chemical transport in porous media through innovative multi-scale experimentation and modeling. His work has led to the reliable prediction of the long-term fate of pollutants in groundwater systems. Most recently, Illangasekare has focused on problems in the development of technologies for secure storage of CO2 in deep geologic formations, which is expected to reduce atmospheric loading of greenhouse gases that contributes to global warming. 

Speaking at the U.N. ceremony, Illangasekare emphasized the importance of groundwater research and an interdisciplinary approach to solutions. “Groundwater is 30.1 percent of the freshwater in the world and is the most extracted natural resource," he said. "The groundwater problems of the coming decades are going to be driven by continually increasing demand, climate change, sea-level rise, chemical and natural pollutants, and issues of energy-water-food nexuses."

Illangasekare concluded his speech with thanks to his early mentors, research sponsors and family. He concluded by saying, "It is with excitement, profound appreciation and humility that I accept this award on behalf of my students, collaborators, research sponsors, and the AMAX endowment at Colorado School of Mines."

Illangasekare is the founding director of the Center for Experimental Study of Subsurface Environmental Processes (CESEP) and past recipient of numerous awards, including the Henry Darcy Medal from the European Geosciences Union. His research has led to use-management models for river basins in Colorado, methods to estimate floods in watersheds, dam safety analyses and environmental monitoring.

Established in 2002, PSIPW is a biannual international award that highlights innovation by scientists, inventors and organizations in five water-related fields that contribute to the sustainable availability of potable water and the alleviation of water scarcity throughout the world. The prize organization is headquartered at the Prince Sultan Research Center for Environment, Water and Desert at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

 

CONTACT:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

As the population in U.S. urban communities continues to grow exponentially, so does the demand for appropriate housing and office space. Typically, in large urban areas this means building residential and commercial units that are up to 20 stories high, made with concrete or steel, as it has been done in the past century. Yet sometimes, these materials are not ideal in earthquake-prone areas.

 

A new timber structural innovation, known as cross laminated timber (CLT), is being implemented around the world as a sustainable alternative to conventional structural materials. In comparison to building with steel and concrete, timber outperforms in lightness, cost, speed of construction, and environmental impact. However, building tall with cross laminated timber has been limited in earthquake active regions, since a validated design method for tall CLT buildings to resist earthquakes has not yet been developed. Colorado School of Mines plans to change that, with the development of a resilience-based seismic design for tall timber construction.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Shiling Pei aims to develop a seismic design methodology over the next four years for resilient tall wood buildings. “This project, scientifically, will answer a lot of questions we have regarding how to design [these buildings] and how to perfect their performance in earthquakes so that the buildings can be immediately reoccupied after a big earthquake,” said Pei, who is also the principal investigator on a $1.5 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project, A Resilience-based Seismic Design Methodology for Tall Wood Buildings.

With six universities and multiple domestic and international industry partners collaborating on this project, researchers will design, build and validate the performance of a 10-story wood building by conducting a full-scale sub-assembly system testing at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) experimental facility at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. This will then be followed by a full-scale test at the NHERI outdoor shake table at the University of California at San Diego—the largest outdoor table in the world.

The model tested on the shake table will be an actual building designed to a resilience performance target, Pei explained, with everything from the finishing drywall to the windows. “This will be the largest building that has been tested on the shake table,” said Pei. But since this is a full-scale model and includes all building components, not just the structural framework, the project can get expensive.

In addition to the support from NSF, the research team still needs to raise approximately $800,000 in order to complete the project. They have already received interest from most industry leaders who see the benefits of their work, which would enable a new sustainable construction practice that is also cost-competitive. If successful, implementing the design method would increase the demand for engineered wood production, providing added value for forest resources and enhancing job growth in construction and forestry sectors.

The researchers expect to have all the designs and donations lined up by the end of 2019 with building anticipated to begin in 2020. “We are excited about the new data this landmark experiment will generate,” said Pei. “It could have an enormous impact on the tall timber building industry, and lead to new building practices using more sustainable materials.”

 

Contact:

Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
 

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