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Ensuring seismic safety, one beam at a time

Tao Xiong loves anything related to civil engineering, from planning and design, to construction and maintenance. This summer, Tao’s taking part in a Mitacs Globalink research project of seismic proportions. He’s working under Professor Tony T.Y. Yang and PhD student Fabrício Bagatini Cachuço in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of British Columbia, in partnership with the Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute.

Tao is helping develop a structural system that will mitigate hazards in industrial buildings — often containing heavy equipment — during an earthquake.

Tao’s first task involves looking at blueprints of industrial buildings, specifically ones that store overhead cranes, to better understand their design and seismic behaviour. This is a significant step because overhead cranes can change the way a building moves and reacts to an earthquake.

“Our main goal is to make sure these industrial buildings, and the people in them, are safe,” says Tao. “The first step is to understand how these cranes are going to behave when there’s an earthquake.”

From there, he will work with researchers on designing a system that will better stabilize the buildings and their cranes during an earthquake. Eventually, the technology will be validated using experimental testing facilities.

Outside of the lab, Tao’s been busy exploring the sights and sounds of Vancouver, including taking in an Ed Sheeran concert and kayaking in nearby Deep Cove.

He’s also considering furthering his education because of his internship. “Before I came to Canada, I didn’t think about pursuing my master’s or PhD. Now that I’m here and working with graduate students, I’ve reconsidered the idea,” says Tao.


Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education; and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.