Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie Renew Fellowship for Engineering Excellence

With the growing danger of natural disasters, the race is on to expand access to programs that safeguard lives from the human-made danger of poorly built housing. With the common mission of building safer, stronger structures, Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie announced the renewal of the Simpson Strong-Tie® Fellowship for Engineering Excellence program.

This is the second year of the Fellowship, marking the continuation of a successful partnership between international nonprofit social enterprise Build Change and global structural solutions leader Simpson Strong-Tie. Complementing the Simpson Strong-Tie goal to devise solutions for making structures safer and stronger, the fellowship allows innovative engineers the opportunity to provide meaningful contributions to Build Change programs as well as support engineers’ professional development in developing nations around the world.

June 2018 marked the completion of the first year of this Simpson Strong-Tie and Build Change partnership.

– Professor James Mwangi, Ph.D., P.E., S.E. was the first Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Excellence Fellow with Build Change. Over the course of the year, Dr. Mwangi traveled to three different countries and supported four different programs, including his remote work.

With generous support from Simpson Strong-Tie, Build Change achieved several significant objectives during the 2017–2018 Fellowship.

Safer Schools

Build Change partnered with the Government of Indonesia on school safety. Working with local government to raise awareness of the urgent need to make schools safer, they completed a pilot retrofit of two school buildings. This project successfully demonstrated that school buildings in Indonesia can be strengthened using simple, cost-efficient retrofitting techniques. More than one thousand vulnerable schools in the area will stand to benefit from the insights and resources of Simpson Strong-Tie. Dr. Mwangi contributed significantly to the Safer Schools Program in Indonesia during his stay there in August and September of 2017.

Poor wall Mortar quality and thickness
Poor wall construction and reinforcement hooks

Better Building Materials

The Bata Jaya brickmakers cooperative, part of the Better Building Materials program, has expanded its market to five districts in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The cooperative is now using improved marketing, billing, payment and supply chain strategies to increase its sales capacity.

After the Pidie Jaya earthquake in December 2016, Build Change completed an awareness-raising campaign to promote good construction practices. The project included the construction of two disaster-resistant timber-frame model houses. As a result, 80% more people regard timber-frame housing as being safer in an earthquake.

Evaluation and Seismic Strengthening to Reduce Vulnerability in Housing

In Columbia, the guidelines for evaluation and seismic retrofit for vulnerability reduction in housing were reviewed and revised to make them consistent with available design codes (NSR-10, Mexican Code, etc.) and other masonry design guidelines, and with reference to ASCE 41-13 as well. Recommendations for making retrofit techniques more user friendly and cost effective were provided. In-depth research was done following a nonlinear time history analysis of one-story unreinforced masonry building to quantify performance of incremental building repair procedures.

Technical Support and Mentorship to Build Change’s Engineering Team and Projects

Coaching and training were provided to Build Change’s engineering teams throughout the Fellowship program. Several technical papers were presented at international conferences. Discussions were held and communication channels were established with academics, public works departments and associations of structural engineers in the countries visited. In the Philippines, Build Change’s construction package documents, which included checklists, specifications, drawings and details, were reviewed and revised. Hands-on training was conducted for the technical team and contractors in Manila, Philippines, on the required mortar consistency and the expected quality of bed and head joints in block masonry.

As a result of a successful partnership, Build Change and Simpson Strong-Tie announced the renewal of Simpson Strong-Tie Fellowship for Engineering Excellence program and called for new applicants in July 2018.

The Fellowship is open to licensed civil and structural engineers with a minimum of eight years of professional experience in structural engineering. Applicants should have experience working on earthquake- and wind-resistant design and construction of buildings, and on existing building seismic and structural evaluation and retrofit according to recognized standards, such as the IBC, ASCE 7, ASCE 41 and others. Candidates should be willing to travel to and live and work in emerging countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and South and Southeast Asia for a period of one year beginning in October 2018 through September 2019.

Prof. James Mwangi, the 2017–2018 Fellow noted, “The Fellowship offered me the opportunity to share my previous experience by working face to face with not only the Build Change technical teams, but also with local engineers in each country, to promote capacity building.”

To read more about Simpson Strong-Tie Fellowship for Engineering Excellence with Build Change, click here.

To read more about James Mwangi’s adventures during the Fellowship, check out the Simpson Strong-Tie SE Blog.

Jhalak Vasavada

Author: Jhalak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada is currently a Research & Development Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda, Gujarat, India, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. After graduation, she worked for an environmental consulting firm called TriHydro Corporation and as a structural engineer with Sargent & Lundy, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. She worked on the design of power plant structures such as chimney foundations, boiler building and turbine building steel design and design of flue gas ductwork. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.