WIDE Trust grant supports potentially groundbreaking research on wooden walls – India Education | Latest Education News | World Education News
Associate Professor Minghao Li and PhD student Ben Moerman tested large cross-laminated timber (CLT) shear walls in UC’s Structural Engineering Laboratory to find out how they behave during large earthquakes.
Research based in Te Tari Pūhanga Metarahi, Rawa Taiao | The Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Resources could have far reaching implications for the construction and forestry industries and New Zealand’s quest to become a carbon neutral economy.
Ben Moerman studied his master’s degree in Canada before receiving a scholarship from the Wood Industry Development and Education (WIDE) Trust to do his PhD at UC.
WIDE Trust focuses on supporting development and education in the forestry and timber industry sectors by providing grants and scholarships to New Zealand students and institutions.
Associate Professor Li says the Trust has approached Kura Ngahere | School of Forestry about four years ago, looking for opportunities to invest in academic teaching as well as research.
He says he and Ben had previously worked and studied in Canada, so he applied for a scholarship for Ben. The rest is history. Ben Moerman is now in his fourth and final year of PhD studying the application of high quality engineered wood products in the construction industry, for multi-storey buildings.
Associate Professor Li says the Trust has been great working with him and has enabled them to advance their research considerably.
“They’ve been quite generous over the years, contributing over $140,000 towards Ben’s four-year doctoral scholarship, plus a small amount for the research project. We have a good relationship with them and they supported us throughout the process. While the Earthquake Commission and the Specialty Wood Products Research Partnership primarily fund the research itself, the WIDE Trust has made it possible for Ben to be here and a part of it. That’s the game-changer for us.
For Ben, his doctorate allows him to work on more specialized areas within the field of structural timber engineering.
“My goal is to play a role in popularizing log buildings and increasing the use of New Zealand wood products in building construction,” he says.
“We’re not really talking about small houses. If we want to compete with steel and concrete, CLT is the product for us. In New Zealand we don’t have enough experience using this product, so the research is really about providing the knowledge needed by design engineers to design earthquake-resistant buildings, with wood.
According to Associate Professor Li, an additional benefit of wood is that the construction sector can contribute to the country’s zero carbon goal. “Wood is a carbon sink; it can sequester carbon or essentially absorb it from the atmosphere.
As Ben’s main thesis supervisor, Associate Professor Li says he provides advice, support and guidance, but this project is one they are working on together.
“He is the main person to do the preparatory work. He spends his time in the lab doing most of the tests. This is incredibly important work for both of us. It’s very different from the student-teacher relationship in China, where I come from, but I really like that kind of culture. All in all, we are a team that works together to deliver something useful.
The WIDE Trust has also generously supported a Wood Design Award, numerous undergraduate scholarships in Forest Science and Forest Engineering, and two academic positions in the School of Forestry: the WIDE Trust Lecturer in Geospatial Technologies and the WIDE Trust Senior Reader in Wood Processing. Support from the WIDE Trust has increased the breadth, as well as the depth, of what UC is able to offer in the areas of forestry, wood processing and wood products.
Reflecting on these contributions, school principal Bruce Manley said, “The support UC is receiving from the WIDE Trust is truly appreciated. This allows us not only to support academic achievement by awarding prizes and scholarships to our students, but also to pursue excellence in forestry research and education through their support of our academic positions. We are grateful to the WIDE Trust for their continued commitment to supporting education.