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Shervin Ghomi

Shervin Ghomi presenting at the 2018 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition.

Building change: Creating towers to survive earthquakes

May 14, 2018 — 

Like many others, Shervin Ghomi built towers with Lego blocks, but he was different than the many other children growing up in Iran. He didn’t just create structures; he loved them. The taller a building, the more beauty his eye saw. As he grew, he began to admire every building’s design and its math—how forces flow through its body.

When he arrived at the University of Manitoba as a graduate student, he discovered his new structural engineering laboratory, far from any fault zone, had the talent and tools he needed to create buildings that could withstand the very earthquakes that destroy many buildings in Iran and around the world.

Ghomi, winner of U of M’s 2018 3MT competition, works with his supervisor, Ehab El-Salakawy, on developing safer and more efficient structures by exploring bold ideas.

“There are many points in this research process where you realize you did something wrong or you failed. But I always had the support of my supervisor, encouraging me to do things, even if it was a new idea that no one has ever looked at. He supported me and let me explore it. I really appreciated that. That is incredible support,” he says.

He received supports in other forms too.

“I received a few scholarships from the U of M and that was a great help. Moneywise, for sure, it’s important, because if you’re less worried about money you can focus more on your project. But it was also important as some sort of mental support. Maybe it was just for me, but I realized that when my work got some acknowledgement, it was encouragement to do more and to do an even better job.”

One of Ghomi’s and El-Salakawy’s novel, patent-pending ideas, combines structural steel and concrete with a flexible, composite material known as GFRP. This technique allows buildings and their occupants to survive the strong earthquakes that could cause severe damage in a standard building.

This is good news for not only Iranians, but for people all over the world.

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