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WI members to shake their stuff

Press release issued: 18 January 2005

Scale models of buildings constructed by the WI will be shaken to destruction by Bristol University this Thursday [January 20].

Scale models of buildings constructed by the WI will be shaken to destruction by Bristol University this Thursday [January 20].  It’s all part of a visit by 30 members of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) to the Engineering Faculty’s Earthquake Engineering Research Centre for a day of lectures and hands-on experiments.

Part of the day’s activities will be a pilot for a series of 25 Earthquake Engineering workshops, developed by Dr Wendy Daniell, a research fellow in the University’s Department of Civil Engineering, which will be held around the country in collaboration with the NFWI for its members. 

During the day Dr Daniell will talk about her research on how the risk of earthquake damage to dams, and their associated structures, can be assessed.  Participants will also have the opportunity to experiment with and build their own strengthening systems for a model building, and experience some of the challenges of earthquake engineering.  Their models will be tested to destruction on a mini earthquake simulator, with prizes awarded for the best designs.

One of the aims of the workshops is to increase public awareness, especially to an audience of mature and influential women, of research activity in earthquake engineering in British universities, its global value and relevance. 

The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of its scheme to promote public awareness of UK research in science and engineering and its value to society, and to inspire future generations of researchers. 

Dr Daniell said: “We hope the project inspires women about the challenge and reward of this area of work, so that they may consider it as a late career for themselves, if returning to work, or pass their experience on to their children and grandchildren.”

Barbara Gill, NFWI Chairman, said: “This is an exciting project for our members to be involved in.  Learning about the world around us has always been important to WI members and a hands-on day like this makes learning fun.”

Research in earthquake engineering at Bristol University started in 1958 when Professor Roy Severn was engaged by the Arch Dams Research Committee of the Institution of Civil Engineers to develop analytical techniques to predict the seismic response of arch dams.  Since then, the Bristol Earthquake Engineering Research Group has grown to be the largest of its kind in the UK. In 1988 it formally became the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC), a University Research Centre.

The NFWI is the largest national organisation for women in the UK with 220,000 members in England, Wales and the Islands. It exists to educate women to enable them to provide an effective role in the community, to expand their horizons and to develop and pass on important skills.

The EPSRC is the UK Government’s leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences.


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