Encouraging young people to consider the creativity and expertise of a career in earthquake engineering is a walk in the park for the University of Canterbury's Brandy Alger.
BUILDING THEIR FUTURES
Quake Centre and Quake Core outreach programme co-ordinator Brandy Alger (M.S.E.E) had turned her passion for engineering into a series of exciting community initiatives, as part of her role.
"I love heading to new schools throughout the country to encourage the value of science," says Brandy. "I talk about what engineers do, engineering as a career, and in particular the importance of earthquake engineering."
"It's great to see young people get excited about the subject and to be asking future-focused questions about how they could go about pursuing a career in this field." In New Zealand and around the world, earthquake engineers play a critical role in ensuring seismic resilience is part of the design process for all infrastructure.
The need for design innovation is paramount in being able to continue to build more robustly and to help decrease the devastating effect of earthquakes on communities.
It's therefore important to encourage a new generation of fresh thinkers to take up the reins in earthquake engineering. They'll need to be equipped with the skills, thinking processes and creative mindsets to help improve the earthquake engineering industry.
Part of the way Brandy helps to generate so much excitement with students in the field of earthquake engineering, is through a series of innovative hands-on workshops, that she has created and developed herself.
A particular favourite with school groups is "QuakeCraft" that uses a shake table to replicate the movement of earthquakes and their effect on buildings.
Applying the principles of maths, physics and technology, children learn how to build a plywood model of an earthquake resilient structure. Groups compete against each other (or online) to see which structure can withstand the increasing intensity of the shake table the longest.
Meanwhile, Brandy's latest innovation "QuakeScape" is proving wildly popular with young and old alike. It's a brand new interactive game requiring strategy, planning, a cool head and above all teamwork to find the fastest way out of an 'escape' room while helping to raise community awareness and understanding around earthquake preparedness.
"It's never too early for communities to start having these conversations around earthquake preparedness - so why not do it in a fun way?" asks Brandy. "We want to create engaging ways to get important communications started that will flow directly into action."
Quake Centre Director, Dr. Robert Finch says, "It's great to see Brandy inspiring a brand new generation of kiwi kids to learn more about community seismic risk and solutions, in a tangible and fun way."