Nine Things You May Not Know About André Filiatrault
- Dr André Filiatrault holds dual academic roles spanning the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea
He is a professor and researcher at both the State University of New York at Buffalo, United States, and at the University Institute of Advanced Studies in Pavia, Italy. As a Structural and Earthquake Engineering specialist at Buffalo, he works four offices along from Professor Michel Bruneau, who recently visited UC Quake Centre to work with Professor Greg MacRae on a report into the application of structural steel in rebuild material decisions of Canterbury engineers.
- He passes on his knowledge to the next generation
Dr Filiatrault appeared in a video promoting an engineering learning programme for 8-11 year olds. Filmed inside the Earthquake Simulation Laboratory at the University at Buffalo, he answers childrens’ questions about quakes and shows viewers around the lab.
He also engages with local schools’ outreach programmes. Visiting Rancho Bernardo’s Turtleback Elementary school, he set up a challenge for the children, in teams, to create buildings using popsicle sticks that could hold the weight of a red brick. Their structures were tested in the university’s lab and all stood up to the test. “These kids did a great job and truly became engineers. They envisioned, they designed, they built, they tested, and they evaluated. I am very impressed,” he said.
- He is a prolific academic supervisor
Take a look at his thesis supervisor stats – 4 Post-doctoral fellows, 14 Ph.D. dissertations and 42 M.S. theses. Additionally, he is currently supervising 1 Post-doctoral fellow, 2 Ph.D. dissertations and 3 M.S. theses.
He is also the author of four textbooks and papers in over 285 peer-reviewed scientific publications.
- He helped on the ground after the Haiti quake
Arriving within eight days of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, Dr Filiatrault, leading a team of ten French-speaking structural engineers, set to work assessing which upright buildings were safe for citizens to occupy. His team was appointed by the UN to lead all building assessments in the area. They also coordinated with the Appropriate Infrastructure Development group – a US non-profit which provides people of developing countries with access to clean water, sanitation and renewable energy. The team inspected hospitals, food warehouses, orphanages – roping off unstable buildings or recommending it’s safe to move people back in.
- He is highly awarded for his work
Over his 27 year career, Dr. Filiatrault has won numerous scholarships, teaching and research awards. Most notably the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to research in Pavia, Italy (2012-13), Professor of the Year at the University of Buffalo (2006), and the Moisseiff Medal for Best Paper in the American Society of Civil Engineers journal (2002).
- He’s a leader in his field
The current President of the Board for SPONSE (International Association for the Seismic Performance of Non-Structural Elements), Dr. Filiatrault has held positions of Director (2008-2011) and Deputy Director (2003-2007) at the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), a significant hazard research centre.
- He has conducted world-first shake tests
The first shake table test ever performed on a two-storey wooden house was conducted under Dr. Filiatrault’s supervision at the University of California, San Diego in 2000. 300 sensors collected data from the event which was televised locally. The results were used to improve building codes following the 1994 Northridge, LA quake in which twenty-four people died in similar wooden constructions.
He also led the first US shake table test of a high-voltage electrical bushing tank/connector.
- His work has taken him around the world
He has consulted on projects all around Canada, the US and Mexico, helping companies like IKEA test shelving systems, as well as assessing the foundations of multi-storey buildings and bridges. Invitations to speak at conferences have taken him to Turkey, Ecuador and China, and his academic career and study has seen him work between the US, Italy, Canada and New Zealand.
- He enjoys helping people through his work
He encourages students to get involved in engineering, saying “It’s very challenging and satisfying to start with a blank page, design a big structure on that page and then see it built. These structures will last beyond my lifetime and be there for several generations. It’s very rewarding to help society that way, to provide infrastructure that people use all of the time.”
His concern for others was also demonstrated during the Haiti recovery when his team worked beyond professional obligations, rallying the UN to get hospital patients and orphans back into shelter and taking initiative to rope-off unsafe areas. He said, “it is not our responsibility to do this work, but we felt it had to be done because these people had not been helped at all yet.”