A group of Georgia Tech researchers, led by Principal Investigator Reginald DesRoches, recently travelled to Puerto Rico for the first of a series of trips with the Caribbean Hazard Assessment Mitigation and Preparedness (CHAMP) center. In all, twenty research faculty and students participated in this inaugural research.
CHAMP is a multi-disciplinary research initiative that was established in 2011 via the support of CEE alumnus Michael Messner and his wife, Jenny. As the center's leader, Professor DesRoches works with civil and earthquake engineering faculty from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, planning faculty from the School of Architecture, faculty from the Health and Humanitarian Logistics (HHL) center, along with select students from each of these areas. Sub-projects within the center include: hazards assessment; infrastructure inventory; building codes; building materials, recycling, and use of local materials; disaster preparedness plans; debris management; and vulnerability index.
Puerto Rico was an important first step for this emerging team of researchers. Students and faculty met with local organizations including the San Juan Planning office, the Municipal Disaster Management office, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Department of Health, the University of Puerto Rico Graduate School of Planning, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA), and FEMA Caribbean Division. Site visits included the Portugues Dam construction site and the Cemex Cement plant in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
In addition, Georgia Tech alumni played a critical role making this trip possible through personal contacts with local organizations and government officials. Thanks to their efforts, CHAMP team members were able to establish critical contacts that will validate the research and allow for continued collaboration. The CHAMP team would like to thank Emilio Venegas, Agustin Mujca, Raul Bras, Chico Sosa, and Carlos Vivoni for their help in making this trip a tremendous success.
CHAMPS will primarily conduct research in 6-7 countries including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Belize. The research consortium is currently developing a project website to highlight its progress as well as its members. The research agenda includes site trips to talk to local stake-holders and responders. For additional information about CHAMPS, visit: http://www.champ.gatech.edu/.