Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Temasek Foundation are working together to bring earthquake resistance technology to regions in the People's Republic of China which are prone to earthquakes. Tapping NTU's expertise in earthquake engineering and seismic-resistant construction technologies, the programme aims to promote safer construction practices, achieve transfer of technology, and enhance the skills of those involved in China construction industry.
Funded by Singapore's philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation, the S$1.7 million (RMB 8 million) programme will be implemented by NTU's LIEN Institute for the Environment (LIFE) in Sichuan, Hebei and Liaoning (first phase), and Jiangsu, Shaanxi and Yunnan (second phase).
The programme covers two aspects. The first involves the strengthening of school buildings to improve their resistance to earthquakes. These retrofitted schools will then be used as training facilities and to showcase good construction practices.
"This project is a vital part of NTU's outreach programme to fulfil its role as a socially conscious university that goes beyond classroom education and research. Schools are chosen for the project as they are an appropriate entry point to the community, because not only do people care about schools, but there is also a flow of information and ideas between teachers, children, parents, and the community in general. We are glad to leverage our science and tech expertise to benefit mankind and society," says LIFE Director Associate Professor Li Bing.
The second aspect of the programme involves working with local universities and authorities in each of the six provinces to train the local masons and equip them with cost-effective techniques developed by NTU LIFE to strengthen buildings.
In total, about 60 trainers and 240 local masons from the six provinces will be trained under this programme.
A pilot project under the programme was initiated in May 2009 in Sichuan, an area highly prone to major earthquakes. Two schools in Sichuan, Shi Ban Primary School and Chao Zhen Primary School in the You Xian District of the Mianyang Prefecture were selected. Strengthening and retrofitting technology was applied to the school buildings.
The effectiveness of the strengthening and retrofitting technology was proven when an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 Ms hit the region on 17 July 2009. Schools which were retrofitted previously using the technology were not damaged even though the epicentre was less than 50 miles away.
While the schools are being strengthened, a team of 10 faculty and graduate students from the College of Architecture and Environment at Sichuan University was selected to be master trainers. They, in turn, transferred their knowledge by teaching the construction techniques to more than 40 local masons. Eventually, another 120 masons in Sichuan will be taught these techniques of building more earthquake-resistant buildings.
Singapore's Vice-Consul (Commercial) to Chengdu, Ms Isabel Yeo, Temasek Foundation's Chief Executive Officer Benedict Cheong, NTU School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair, Associate Professor Edmond Lo LIFE Director Associate Professor Li Bing and Dean of Faculty of Architecture, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Sichuan University, Professor Wang Qingyuan visited the two schools in Sichuan today. They toured the retrofitted schoolbuildings and saw the results of the programme.
"Temasek Foundation is pleased to support this programme to spread the knowledge of earthquake-resistant technology to quake-prone regions in China," says Mr Cheong. "We hope these retrofitted schools can be used as a model to showcase good earthquake-resistant construction practices, to help other local masons in Sichuan and the other provinces to apply these techniques to more buildings in their communities. This will hopefully mitigate the effects of damage in the event of an earthquake."
Associate Professor Li, who is also an expert in earthquake engineering and seismic-resistant construction technologies, says, "We are glad that Temasek Foundation recognises our expertise in seismic-resistant construction technologies, and chooses to collaborate with NTU again to promote cost-effective methods for enhancing seismic resilience with many institutions and communities throughout Asia. This programme is an excellent model of how we can work together to bring our technological know-how to communities which face a high risk of earthquakes."
This is the second collaboration by Temasek Foundation and LIFE. A similar training programme in July 2008 brought earthquake-resistant construction techniques to the faculty of the Department of Civil Engineering at Universitas Andalas Padang and masons in western Sumatra, an earthquake-prone region in Indonesia.