News & Features

Juan Murcia-Delso - ConTex Award to Collaborate with Mexican Institutions

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Oct.5, 2018

Juan Murcia-Delso, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering received a funding award to work on a collaborative research project with engineering colleagues as part of ConTex, a joint initiative of the University of Texas System and Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) to enhance academic and research cooperation between Texas and Mexico.

Murcia-Delso, whose primary research focus is in structural engineering, will partner with Sergio M. Alcocer of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), on a project titled, "Assessment of Seismically Retrofitted Concrete Buildings Following the 2017 Earthquake in Mexico City." Alcocer is an alumnus of the department, receiving his Ph.D. in civil engineering in 1991. He is also a National Academy of Engineering member and was the Cockrell School of Engineering's 2015 Commencement speaker.

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As part of their research, the team will take an inventory of pre-1985 retrofitted and un-retrofitted concrete buildings to build a database that will help monitor resilience plans, conduct a detailed assessment of retrofitted concrete building’s performances, and document current interventions in concrete buildings in both Mexico and the U.S.

Alcocer and Murcia-Delso, along with Dr. David Murià-Vila, also from UNAM, will take their combined expertise in concrete structures, earthquake engineering, computational simulation, structure rehabilitation, and structural health monitoring to help reduce vulnerabilities in buildings and enhance disaster resiliency in Mexico City.

“I think the reaction of society, to organize – especially with social media – was very impressive in Mexico City after the 2017 earthquake,” Murcia-Delso said. “As an engineer, you feel you have to contribute to support that kind of community response. As a researcher, there is a lot to be learned from things that didn’t work and, in this case, to learn of things that worked. That’s one of the motivations of this project – to look at buildings that were upgraded after the earthquake in ’85 to see if those upgrades worked. And, in many cases, they did work.”

Tan Bui-Thanh, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, is also a Cockrell School of Engineering 2018 ConTex award recipient. With a primary research focus in computational mechanics,  Bui-Thanh will partner with Marcos Capistrán of CONACYT, on a project titled, "High Resolution Magnetic Resonance Elastography with Uncertainty Quantification."

The ConTex awards are the latest in the state's, UT System's and UT Austin's efforts to continue strengthening academics, research collaboration and program initiatives with Mexico. Established in 2016, the ConTex program represents a long-term commitment to expand cross-border partnerships and create opportunities to share knowledge relevant to issues of common interest to the United States and Mexico. ConTex gives researchers the opportunity to make new discoveries and scientific breakthroughs, offers students a chance to use their knowledge and skills in a real-world environment, and offer outstanding preparation for entering the global workforce.