She's a Scientist: Christine Wittich
A professor of civil engineering conducts literally "earth-shaking" research.
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- [00:00:00.000](upbeat music)
- [00:00:02.710]Okay, coming down.
- [00:00:04.120]A team of Nebraska civil engineers
- [00:00:06.270]prepares to shake, rattle and roll a half-ton boulder.
- [00:00:10.030]We are shaking unattached boulders until they fall over.
- [00:00:14.150]We need to lower.
- [00:00:15.260]And the reason that we're doing that
- [00:00:17.220]is because we have nuclear power plants,
- [00:00:19.300]nuclear waste repositories, that need to be designed
- [00:00:22.420]for very rare earthquakes.
- [00:00:25.310]But we don't necessarily know what those motions,
- [00:00:28.710]what those earthquake actually looks like.
- [00:00:31.160]So this is our large-scale shaking table.
- [00:00:35.420]We can simulate the ground's motion
- [00:00:37.380]during an earthquake in two horizontal directions.
- [00:00:42.760]Wittich simulates earthquakes on boulders
- [00:00:45.280]to reverse engineer the super-seismic events
- [00:00:48.330]that can destroy buildings.
- [00:00:53.580]When the University of Nebraska imploded a residential hall
- [00:00:56.900]in 2018, Wittich measured the seismic effects
- [00:01:00.160]on the surrounding buildings.
- [00:01:01.900]It was, you know a very unique opportunity
- [00:01:03.860]for us to really isolate the impact of one building
- [00:01:07.450]through the ground upon another building.
- [00:01:10.650]Wittich was a New York teen
- [00:01:12.110]when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001.
- [00:01:15.350]The collapse of the Twin Towers made a huge impact
- [00:01:18.350]on her life's work.
- [00:01:19.670]And so from a pretty young age,
- [00:01:21.610]I was highly motivated to understand
- [00:01:23.980]why are the buildings where we live and work
- [00:01:26.660]and going to school falling down
- [00:01:28.950]and not keeping all of its occupants safe.
- [00:01:32.430]From there I kind of learned that the way in which
- [00:01:35.710]that event was masterminded was through engineering
- [00:01:38.700]and that engineering would be the best way
- [00:01:40.610]to try to combat these types of things.
- [00:01:42.616](machinery rumbling)
- [00:01:44.750]So, in my lab at UNL, what we hope to do
- [00:01:48.030]is to gain a better understanding
- [00:01:49.720]and make better recommendations
- [00:01:51.750]for how individual structures can withstand
- [00:01:54.120]natural hazards of all types.
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