Civil engineering faculty builds change in Nepal

It’s been one year since Civil Engineering faculty, Bishnu Pandey, flew back to disaster-stricken Nepal, where a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit in April 2015, killing thousands and leaving cities in ruins. Bishnu returned in response to the need for earthquake engineering experts to support the reconstruction of earthquake resilient homes.

National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) of Nepal turned to BCIT for industry expertise

Stemming from the success of Dr. Pandey’s work with the Canadian Association for Earthquake Engineering (CAEE) within months of the initial earthquake, the NRA sent a request to BCIT for aid in effective reconstruction expertise in line with CAEE mission recommendations. From there, Dr. Pandey led the reconstruction efforts and enabled BCIT to provide aid on the ground in Nepal and from the classroom at the BCIT Burnaby campus.

While in Nepal, Bishnu led the team through three investigative phases. An investigative phase to discover why the earthquake caused such a high level of building destruction, a problem-solving phase on how to change the engineering building standards, and an implementation phase to educate  communities on best practices for rebuilding.

“It was important to find a solution that was adaptable for the people of Nepal. We had to take into account the local conditions and resources that are affordable,” said Dr. Pandey.

Through the intensive investigative phase, a solution of reinforcing the stone masonry with a clay brick wall was proposed. Bishnu then led the effort to teach local builders, carpenters, and students on the best practices to rebuild their communities.

Classroom assignments with the power to change lives

Back home in the BCIT Burnaby classrooms, assignments were created to build instruction manuals to teach the construction workers in Nepal how to build an earthquake resilient home. Those manuals were created in conjunction with Builders Without Boarders and were passed through the Nepalese Government to help regulate the construction of buildings.

Two 3rd year Civil Engineer students also got the industry training of a lifetime when they spent the summer of 2017 interning at Earthquake Safety Solutions (ESS) in Nepal. While there, they were able to conduct seismic vulnerability assessments of buildings, perform structural analysis and design work, and review ongoing construction for quality control and site safety. The two students who accepted the challenge were Ryan Kroeker and Casey von Hahn. You can read about their experience through the blogs they posted while overseas.

Initial and long-term impact

The Government of Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority wrote, “Dr. Pandey has been instrumental in reconstruction efforts by providing his expertise in earthquake engineering through several channels and platforms including Housing Recovery and Reconstruction”.

BCIT is very proud of the work and effort put in by Bishnu and students, Ryan and Casey!

Bishnu Pandey (left) and Wayne Hand, Dean of the School of Construction and the Environment (right) with students Ryan Kroeker and Casey von Hahn (middle)

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