Above: Audsley Jones in front of a Buckling Restraint Brace in a new building under construction.
Audsley Jones - Scholarship Profile
If you’ve been to Christchurch in the past five years, the chances are you’ve seen some form of diagonal steel bracing in one or more of the city’s buildings. The reinforcements are called Buckling Restraint Braces (BRBs) and they’re now used in approximately eighty percent of new builds in the city. These braces are the main focus of PhD scholarship student Audsley Jones’ research project into the earthquake resilience of steel structures.
After completing her Masters in Engineering at the University of Auckland, Audsley spent two years working for the Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA), before moving to Christchurch in 2013 to begin work on her PhD. Audsley explains what it was that drew her to this unique subject matter.
“I got into this research in the last year of my undergraduate studies. I looked at how in the last ten years BRBs have gone from being a somewhat unfamiliar concept to becoming the new technology used in New Zealand. There are more traditional methods that have gone through the earthquakes and proven to perform quite well, but are now being disregarded in favour of these systems.”
With the technology being such a recent innovation, there are inevitable steps that still need to be taken with educating engineers that there are potential issues, and as Audsley says, in doing so they will be more aware of how they behave, which will allow them to implement that more into their designs.
“While we are ahead of the world here in New Zealand when it comes to Earthquake Engineering, we do still do a bit of ‘backyard engineering’. Engineers in New Zealand aren’t held to any regulatory measures with these braces and we don’t have any design provisions for them. So I was really interested to get into the ‘nitty gritty’ of the braces – how do they behave, how do they perform as a member and if we put them into a
building, do they still perform the same way?”
Audsley’s research scholarship has been supported by both BRANZ and HERA, as well as University of Canterbury funding through the Safe Building Scholarship, and the Quake Centre is providing support during the final year of the project, which is set to wrap up in February 2017. Associate Professor Greg MacRae, who is one of the supervisors of Audsley’s PhD, sees her combined academic and industry backgrounds as standing her in good stead to undertake the research.
"Audsley comes with previous research experience from her masters degree at the University of Auckland, as well as with industrial experience from HERA, to undertake this study. Her work is important for New Zealand engineers."
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