Geotechnical engineering faculty to develop course with Japanese colleagues

Posted: July 20, 2020

Thanks to an award granted by a partnership of The American Council on Education (ACE) and the Institute for Innovative Global Education, Ohio State faculty and students will have soon have the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues and peers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

The two universities were selected by ACE to participate in the U.S.-Japan Rapid Response Virtual Exchange / Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Transformation Lab. The COIL program fosters U.S.-Japan higher education ties through the development of new and innovative courses.

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Daniel Pradel

Daniel Pradel, professor of practice in geotechnical engineering, will collaborate with Takashi Matsushima, professor of engineering information and systems at the University of Tsukuba, to adapt a current Ohio State course called, “Learning from disasters: Extreme events and their impact on infrastructure, engineering, and society.”

Professor Pradel previously participated in several post-disaster, engineering reconnaissance teams, including the 2015 Ghorka Earthquake in Nepal, the 2011 Tohuku Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. He said that studying the response to these and other extreme events will reinforce, to students, the importance of resilience in designing and developing infrastructure.

"Historical decisions in planning, engineering and/or urban development play important roles that often magnify the destructive effects of extreme events," Pradel said in a statement. He went on to emphasize the other challenges these events present. "In developing countries, where resources tend to be limited, extreme events such as earthquakes and typhoons often result in medical threats from infectious diseases due to the limited availability of clean water and emergency medical services."

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Daniel Pradel surveys landslide damage caused by Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, 2017.

While international travel is not possible during autumn semester, 2020, COIL participants will instead collaborate via virtual exchanges. Utilizing case studies of real-life, extreme events as the basis for their team projects, Ohio State and their Tsukuba counterparts will:

  • Identify the main impacts and threats caused by extreme events, 
  • Identify various engineering design methods used to prevent and/or mitigate extreme events,and their immediate as well as long‐term consequences,
  • Identify how regulations, building codes and mitigation methods change following extreme events, and evolve through time,
  • Understand how designers and engineers apply mitigation and design procedures intended to reduce the impacts caused by extreme events,
  • Understand the importance of resilience in the development of infrastructure.

Ohio State and the University of Tsukuba signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016 which, thus far, has yielded research collaborations among faculty and education abroad programs for students.

Professor Pradel looked forward to working with students to evaluate past performance of infrastructure, during and after these events, in order to create a more resilient future for the regions affected. "Since many global warming models predict a sharp increase in the number, as well as severity, of extreme events, it is important to learn from past disasters, in order to reduce their potential for (future) destruction," he stated.

For more information about Ohio State's international partnerships, visit oia.osu.edu/international-partnerships.

Category: Research