Deierlein wins ‘Popular Mechanics’ award


Popular Mechanics has chosen GREGORY DEIERLEIN, the John A. Blume Professor in the School of Engineering, as one of the winners of the magazine’s annual Breakthrough Awards. He won for designing a structural system for multi-story buildings that allows them to absorb the shaking during a major earthquake; the system confines the damage to a few easily replaceable steel fuses.

The “rocking frame” he developed rocks off its foundation during large earthquakes, unlike conventional building frames that are secured to their foundations. Once the shaking has stopped, steel cables in the frame pull the building back into plumb. By minimizing damage to the building, the frame also reduces injuries to the occupants, as well as enabling people to reoccupy a building sooner after an earthquake.

The frame can be used in new buildings or added into existing steel-frame buildings being retrofitted for seismic safety.

Deierlein and Jerome Hajjar, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University, collaborated on the rocking frame project and will both be honored at a ceremony in New York City on Tuesday, Oct. 5, along with nine other teams or individuals who were chosen.

In a press release announcing the award, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics James B. Meigs was quoted as saying that the winners were “leading the way into the future, and we’re thrilled to recognize their advances.” This is the sixth year Popular Mechanics has given the awards.

Reflecting on his award, Deierlein said, “Beyond bringing recognition to our project, I hope the award also raises awareness of the activities and contributions of many dedicated earthquake engineering researchers and practitioners who all contribute to earthquake hazard mitigation.”

—Louis Bergeron