Degenkolb and Build Change extend Training Program to CARE EngineersThe Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit program in Haiti is gaining momentum. Build Change has over 60 Haitian engineers who have been trained by Degenkolb over the last year. These engineers are working in multiple neighborhoods. One goal of their goals is to perform over 1400 evaluations and retrofits in a single neighborhood by June. Build Change has partnered with CARE to train CARE's engineers on the same process that Build Change has been implementing since last spring. CARE is a worldwide humanitarian organization with the mission of fighting poverty and helping people to rebuild their lives following natural disasters. Their mission in Haiti has lead them to retrofits of existing buildings, but they needed additional technical knowledge in order to diagnose a building’s ailment and prescribe the right medication. (The medical metaphor seems like be well received in the Haitian seismic evaluation and retrofit environment.) As we’ve done for Build Change, Degenkolb was asked to train the CARE engineers in the process that we developed.
Degenkolb agreed to provide six weeks of training to ten engineers from CARE. The first two weeks are now complete, which resulted in ten retrofit design packages that will be delivered to the homeowner and the contractor. Each package includes a scope of work, retrofit plans, relevant details, and a bill of quantities. Completed checklists and calculations are kept for the record of decisions. The houses are all Haitian Masonry construction. They have some Confined Masonry details (such as concrete columns that were poured after the construction of the walls), but are missing key elements that would provide the relevant ductility of confined masonry construction. Some houses have sheet metal roofs, some have concrete slabs. Most were one story, but a couple were two story.The engineers must complete the Deficiency Identification Checklist as their roadmap to retrofit. The checklist resembles an ASCE-31 Tier 1 Evaluation, with potential deficiencies such as damage, deterioration, torsion, vertical discontinuities, and a shear check which requires the engineer to calculate the actual and required ratio of wall area to building area. The checklist is generally completed in the field and the calculations are done in the classroom.
Often the masonry is covered with a smooth layer of plaster, which provides a nice finished surface and hides potential poor quality blocks and bad construction details. The engineers are encouraged to be building detectives, looking for clues that provide information on what lies beneath the plaster. For example, this picture shows a house where the interior wall was removed. The underside of the slab shows the lack of positive connection when the wall was in place, which is likely indicative of the other walls in the building. Engineers are trained in the importance of good connections which engage the new walls into the existing slab.
After addressing all Non-Compliant checklist items, the engineers arrive at a retrofit plan. As part of the training, the engineers present their designs to the rest of the class. I was impressed to see how these presentations evolved into lively debate about the relative merits of a retrofit option. Is a new column necessary? What function would it actually serve? What is the benefit to the required percentage of wall area? Is it worth the cost? These types of questions were raised in the small groups as well as the full class discussion to help maximize value of the retrofit.
I was impressed with the quality of the engineers, their enthusiasm to learn, and their desire to master the material. I gathered that they had exposure in school to statics, dynamics, mechanics, wood design, concrete design, steel design, and geotechnical engineering. Their seismic design experience is just beginning. Degenkolb will be following up with two additional training sessions to observe the construction of the ten houses, reinforce concepts, and coach them through unique conditions that are difficult to capture in the classroom. CARE intends to scale up their program to over 300 houses in the Carrefour neighborhood upon successful completion of this initial phase. I think they are off to a strong start.