DRC-Disaster Research Center

Active Studies


Collaborative Proposal Project: Interaction between Building and Occupant Responses during Collapse (IBORC)

DRC Principal Investigator: Benigno Aguirre with Sherif El-Tawil (University of Michigan)
Current Graduate Research Assistant: Kimberly Gill and Manuel Torres
Undergraduate Research Assistants: Brittany Scott
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Study Description

This research investigates how a building’s dynamic response to an extreme event impacts the actions of occupants present throughout the building. Using a bomb blast near critical structural members as an example of an extreme event, we will utilize computational simulation to investigate emergent occupant response during situations that involve partial or complete building collapse. The research will take place at the intersection of structural engineering, social science, and computer science and will provide critical insight into a number of rarely studied issues, including: 1) human perception of and response to the signals issued by buildings as they partially or completely collapse; 2) the influence of a building’s structural system on survival rates; and 3) emergent occupant response as the collapse process unfolds. Our overarching goal is to contribute to the state-of-the-art in hazards research by developing knowledge that could form the basis of public education  and awareness programs to help building occupants, their rescuers and city officials respond appropriately during extreme events.