Storm surges, heavy precipitation, flooding and high winds – hurricanes are costly disasters that pose major risks to people, their communities and their infrastructure.
Armand Corporation – a New York City- and Camden-based construction management company serving local, state and federal agencies – awarded $152,000 to the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering to improve the resilience and reliability of local and regional infrastructure systems and communities in coastal zones.
“Armand Corporation’s experience providing disaster-recovery program management and construction management dovetails so nicely with the efforts of Rowan’s Engineering’s curriculum,” said company president and CEO Barbara (Armand) Kushner. “Together we can leverage our strengths to first minimize and manage risk and then to provide resiliency and reconstruction.”
Through the Armand Corporation grant, Rowan Engineering established a resiliency team that incorporates the use of Rowan’s signature undergraduate engineering clinic program, expert faculty and the resources of the College’s Coastal Resiliency Lab. The team will collect data to develop high-resolution virtual reality maps that simulate storm damage scenarios. These scenarios subsequently can be analyzed to develop proactive resiliency plans that are unique to individual communities.
“Recently, there has been more attention paid to understanding how hurricanes form and move,” said Dr. Rouzbeh Nazari, leader of the Rowan Coastal Resiliency Lab and associate professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering. “But there’s still a lack of research available that looks at the construction industry and residential infrastructure to ensure there are systems in place to protect vulnerable communities from increasingly severe storms. This grant allows us to expand our reach to look at individual coastal communities and different weak points in each of these communities and to find solutions for better resiliency planning.”
According to Nazari, Rowan engineering clinic students are gaining real-world experience by overseeing, managing and operating industry projects from start to finish. “With projects like the one provided by Armand Corporation, students truly get a sense of engineering work and receive excellent industry experience for their future careers,” noted Nazari.
Uriel Clark, a civil and environmental engineering graduate student who also works fulltime at the Armand Corporation, is leading the Rowan resiliency team to establish measures for improving storm strategies for East Coast individuals, organizations, communities and government offices to equip them for various hazardous scenarios.
“Our country’s current infrastructure is vulnerable to storms, as we have seen during events such as Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, Maria and Florence. We have seen firsthand in our state that our infrastructure was ill-equipped to withstand the effects of Superstorm Sandy,” said Clark. “People need to be more informed about impending storms, and our homes and infrastructure need to be more resilient. We don’t only want to be prepared for the next Sandy or Florence but also for storms that are much stronger and – unfortunately – likely to occur.”
During the next two years, Rowan Engineering’s resiliency team – along with the Armand Corporation – will analyze the impact that a future storm could have on a coastal community, create strategies to mitigate the associated risks and then work with community leaders to implement these strategies.
“Today’s forces of nature are strong, but we can harden infrastructure, homes and communities against these storms,” said Kushner. “And together, I’m sure our work with Rowan will save lives and properties.”
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