Civil engineers study how tornadoes damage buildings

Civil engineers study how tornadoes damage buildings

Calendar Icon Jan 21, 2016          RSS Feed RSS

Richard Wood, assistant professor of civil engineering, and graduate students used a camera-equipped drone to capture this image of the Pilger Middle School shortly after it was struck by a tornado in June 2014.
Richard Wood, assistant professor of civil engineering, and graduate students used a camera-equipped drone to capture this image of the Pilger Middle School shortly after it was struck by a tornado in June 2014.
Using a high-tech laser scanner and a drone, Richard Wood, assistant professor of civil engineering, and UNL graduate students analyzed the wreckage after a tornado ripped through the town of Pilger, Nebraska, in 2014.

The tornado killed two people, injured 20 and destroyed dozens of homes and buildings, including St. John Lutheran Church. The Wisner-Pilger Middle School building was damaged beyond repair.

Just days after the storm, assistant professor Richard Wood and graduate student Gulipiye Abudukadier made the first of three trips to Pilger to study the damage. They were joined by doctoral student Ebrahim Mohammadi on the third visit.

Their mission: to detect where engineering fell short, leaving key buildings vulnerable to the tornado’s punishing winds; and to develop computer algorithms for remotely detecting structural damage caused by tornadoes, earthquakes and other events.