Striving for a new benchmark in seismic engineering performance
The UC Quake Centre melds the best in seismic research with industry knowledge and is proud to work alongside Dr. Masoud Moghaddasi, a senior structural engineer based at the University of Auckland.
An active researcher in earthquake engineering, Dr. Moghaddasi’s expertise lies in performance-based seismic engineering, structural reliability and risk analysis, seismic loss assessment and the development of innovative seismic design techniques.
After graduating from the University of Canterbury (with a PhD in soil-foundation-structure interaction analysis), Dr. Moghaddasi spent a number of years combining his technical nous with practical “real world” experience, working for engineering consultancies on a range of projects.
“During that time I could see industry still needs some state of the art input and so decided to return to seismic research,” says Dr. Moghaddasi.
He’s joined the Quake Centre as a research engineer, currently assisting Prof. Brendon Bradley and Prof. Ken Elwood with the Seismic Loss Assessment Tool (SLAT) project. Developed a few years ago by Prof. Bradley (based at UC) SLAT is a computer program designed to perform seismic loss assessment of structures subjected to earthquake risk.
“There’s an assumption that if we design buildings based on the new seismic design standards, the building will perform to its best, and the risk of expected damage and associated losses are minimal, but – this assumption has not been appropriately investigated and quantified,” explains Dr. Moghaddasi.
Until now SLAT has only been mainly used by academics but the Quake Centre is taking this tool to a new level - creating an interface so that industry will be able to access and use it for seismic loss assessment of structural and non-structural elements.
“With modifications to it’s original coding, SLAT is now much easier to use, even for design engineers. Using this numerical modelling tool, we can have a good understanding of the structural response of a building hit by an earthquake.”
The tool summarizes results and translates them expressed as losses – essentially the probability of downtime in terms of dollars – which is very appealing both for the client and for insurers.
“We aim to shape our research in a way so that industry can benefit the most. Part of my role is to act as if I am a final operator of SLAT, to ensure that it is user-friendly in a simple, practical and understandable way for industry use,” adds Dr. Moghaddasi.
“We’re striving to create a benchmark in seismic engineering performance and it’s the continually evolving possibilities in this research that excite me the most. A more comprehensive and therefore better understanding of the New Zealand modern building is really the result that we’re looking for.”