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New Zealand

Engineering and Urban Planning

Program Description

This four-week program provides a multi-disciplinary exposure to earthquake engineering and urban planning, using the case study of Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit by a swarm of devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Damage to the central business district was so extensive that it was completely closed for over a year while buildings were demolished and infrastructure was repaired. However, now that the aftershocks have subsided, the mammoth challenge of rebuilding Christchurch is underway, providing extremely unique opportunities both to recreate the city and to study how engineering and urban planning are involved in this process using a real-life case study. Recent experiences of the disasters and recovery processes among engineering practitioners, emergency planners, researchers, and community stakeholders provide a unique educational forum for students with an interest in earthquake engineering, urban planning, sustainability and resilience of infrastructure systems and/or societal risk management.

The program begins with a few days in Auckland and then Wellington, where local professors and practicing engineers will introduce the topics of seismology and earthquake engineering in New Zealand. You will have the chance to network with local firms and New Zealand students and learn about national planning and mitigation activities. Wellington, in particular, is located in a major fault zone and its buildings, infrastructure, and emergency systems are undergoing considerable review and consultation in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes.

After this first week, you will travel to Christchurch where you will spend the remainder of the program learning about the effects of the earthquakes since 2010, the resulting business losses, and the resilience of communities to rebuild and recover. Presentations will be given by researchers at the University of Canterbury and practitioners in Christchurch on topics ranging from geophysics to the performance of structures during recent earthquakes. You will visit the areas once known as the commercial and residential Red Zones with the Christchurch Recovery Authority (CERA), learn about urban search and rescue operations, and hear about the government’s responses including workings of the Earthquake Commission. Other topics may include:
– the challenges facing engineers in the wake of the earthquakes;
– how to obtain employment as an engineer in Christchurch;
– how building condition was assessed and how demolitions of buildings were conducted;
– how engineers communicate with the media on technical issues;
– social, economic and psychological impacts;
– recovery plans and rebuilding communities; and
– what Christchurch can teach the world about disaster recovery and urban planning.

Program Highlights

  • Christchurch has been named one of the Lonely Planet’s top 40 places to visit in 2014 because of its exciting rebuild. Learn how engineers and urban planners are contributing to this fabulous new city.
  • This is a completely unique opportunity to study a real-life example of a city rebuilding itself after a severe natural disaster.
  • Network with professionals and find out about career and internship opportunities in a city with a great need for more engineers and planners.
  • Use your free days to explore the spectacular diversity of the South Island, from the wild West Coast beaches to the mountains and lakes of Queenstown, “the adventure capital of the world.”
  • Give something back through a service learning project that will help with a rebuild project in a community badly damaged by the earthquakes.

Program Itinerary

Check out a sample itinerary for this program.


Eligibility & Apply

For all programs, students apply directly to the university offering credit. Please click on the university link for the program that you wish to attend.

No universities are currently running this program.

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