Civil Engineering Faculty Member Aids Japan
Named to Expert Team on Earthquakes, Landslides
April 21, 2011 :: No. 124
Binod Tiwari, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cal State Fullerton, spent seven years in Japan earning his master’s degree and doctorate. Now, for Tiwari, it’s time to give back to the earthquake- and tsunami-devastated country he once called home.
Tiwari has been selected to be a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ earthquake/tsunami post-disaster assessment team. He is part of a trio of civil engineering experts leaving for Tokyo Friday, April 22, and scheduled to return May 1.
The team will visit Tokyo and northern areas destroyed by the March 11 9.0 magnitude temblor and resulting tsunami.
Seven ASCE technical disaster assessment teams will travel to Japan over the next several weeks to study the earthquake and tsunami impact on the region’s infrastructure and public safety. They will document what is learned for dissemination to those in the civil engineering profession, according to the society.
ASCE is funding the assessment team’s travel expenses and work. Tiwari is a member of the engineering society’s Geo-Institute Committee on Embankments, Dams and Slopes, which was involved in assessing levee failure following Hurricane Katrina.
An expert on landslides and slope failure, Tiwari said that despite U.S. travel warnings, he wants to assist the country that helped him realize his higher-education goals.
“I have a sentimental attachment to Japan,” he said. “More than anything, it’s time to pay them back for all they did to help me get a higher education.”
Tiwari, a Nepal native, received scholarships from the Japanese Ministry of Education to earn a doctorate in environmental management science with a specialization in geotechnical engineering and a master’s in geo and biosphere science from Niigata University.
While there, he participated in research at the Research Center for Natural Hazards and Disaster Recovery, which shares its findings with the U.S. and other nations. The center specializes in seismic activity and landslides.
“It’s definitely exciting for me to return to Japan and conduct this important work. Our help will definitely count,” said the engineer, who speaks fluent Japanese.
During his upcoming visit, Tiwari and the Embankment, Dams and Slopes Team will be working with Japan’s Landslide and Geotechnical societies, along with top-level government officials.
“Our main task is to get firsthand information regarding the losses pertinent to the natural and man-made slopes, dams, embankments and other civil engineering infrastructure,” Tiwari said. “The objective of the trip is to learn lessons and use our expertise to help Japanese engineers rebuild their country.”
His team will focus on the seismic performance of earth and rock fill dams, embankments, levees and natural or modified slopes, such as slopes adjacent to highways, according to ASCE.
As colleagues in Japan indicated that a number of slope failures occurred during the earthquake, the visiting engineers will consider both the distribution and characteristics of these failures, as well as their consequences. Tiwari and his teammates will document the effects on associated infrastructure, such as highways, rail lines, structures, pipelines, dam failures and dam distress, said society officials.
Based on their field investigation, the researchers will submit a report to the American Society of Civil Engineers, as well as submit articles to scholarly and professional journals. Tiwari, who joined the Cal State Fullerton faculty in 2006, will share his experience with his students, as well as the public, upon his return.
“Learning by past experience is always a great tool in research and teaching,” said Tiwari. “This experience will open a new collaboration between the team members and our Japanese counterparts in terms of research to be conducted on the impact of a tsunami on infrastructure.”
In Japan, Tiwari will be working with Joseph Wartman, a University of Washington associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and chair of the Geo-Institute Committee on Embankments, Dams and Slopes; and Daniel W. Pradel, chief engineer for civil engineering company Praad Geotechnical Inc. and adjunct professor at UCLA.
More information is available on the ASCE website.
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Binod Tiwari, Civil and Environmental Engineering, 657-278-3968 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027; 657-278-2414 or email@example.com