Dr. Shahria Alam’s Smart Materials in Structure Group is an applied research unit consisting of 12 PhD students, five masters, one post-doctorate, and one research associate.
Its goal is to reduce seismic damage, protect the occupants of the structure, and, above all, to save lives by increased public safety. BC is vulnerable to seismic activity, and smart materials have significant societal and financial implications both here and abroad.
Smart materials are designed to adapt their shape or behaviour according to the applied load or environmental conditions. Shape memory alloys can retain the memory of the original shape, similar to how memory foam works.
We recently sat down with 4 PhD students from Alam’s group to discuss their research and what brought them to the School of Engineering on UBC’s Okanagan campus.
PhD student Farshad Hedayati says the Smart Materials in Structure Group brought him to UBC Okanagan after completing his masters at the Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran). His goal is to enhance public safety by developing a new generation of smart earthquake protective systems.
“The Okanagan Valley is peaceful,” Hedayati says. “Before I moved here I was hesitant to stay. Now I prefer Kelowna to bigger cities. Plus, it’s beautiful—I love the lakes.”
Drawn by UBC’s international reputation for excellence and the prospect of studying in Canada, Hedayati, like his fellow students in the group, was specifically attracted to working with Dr. Alam.
Alam is an expert in the field of smart materials and their structural applications, seismic rehabilitation of deteriorated structures, and performance based design of buildings and bridges.
“I have found this campus to be a unique environment for education and research,” says Saber Moradi, who received his masters in Structural Engineering from K.N. Toosi University of Technology (Tehran, Iran). The goal of Moradi’s research is to eliminate earthquake-induced damage in steel buildings by incorporating innovative materials and systems.
Rafiqul Haque adds that he also values the “excellent research facilities and world-class reputation of UBC.” His PhD research has led to a patented technology for bracings that can substantially improve the seismic safety of buildings. Rafiqul envisions having a start-up company in Kelowna that will market this technology worldwide.
Muntasir Billah completed his masters in the School of Engineering, and continued into his PhD program with Dr. Alam. Billah’s research looks at BC bridges, their vulnerability during seismic activity, and how best to minimize damage using shape memory alloys.
“This campus provides a lot of areas to get involved,” says Billah. “In addition, Kelowna’s lifestyle is good for me.”