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Buildings and Bad Weather: Lessons Learned from Interdisciplinary Research

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The combination of research in the fields of civil engineering and meteorology/climatology is one of many interdisciplinary overlaps that is necessary for the functioning of modern society. Extreme loads due to meteorological phenomenon are among the fundamental components of building and infrastructure design. However, for these loads to be duly accounted for, constant, ongoing co-operation and understanding between these two fields needs to occur. As will be demonstrated, this has not always been the case. Using examples mainly from the analysis of wind storms, problems arising from a combination of poor observational system design and the so-called “Silo Effect” (i.e. interdisciplinary isolation) will be discussed.

An attempt is made to define broader lessons for application to other forms of interdisciplinary research:

1. Know where your design criteria are coming from 2. Recognise when you’re making assumptions 3. Acknowledge and respect other fields of scientific study 4. Know where your competency lies: Don’t be afraid to ask questions 5. Opportunities for cross-application of tools are invaluable: Seek these out

About the speaker: Simon L. Eng recently graduated with a B. Eng. in Civil Engineering from Ryerson University and is in the process of completing a Certificate in Meteorology at York University. He is currently a researcher with the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division (AIRD) at Environment Canada. He is also in the process of writing a book on the subject of tornadoes in Canada, the first book of its kind.

This talk is part of the Engineering Design Centre series.

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