Aaron Katz

My senior thesis within the structural track  combined a unique environmental component as well.  In response to two major earthquakes in the Spring of 2015 that hit Nepal and devastated its fragile infrastructure, my research focused on understanding the collapse behaviors of traditional earthen buildings.  Particularly, I studied the earthquake loading capacity of rammed earth walls.  Rammed earth construction has recently regained popularity around the world as a sustainable building alternative to traditional concrete.  This project introduced a simple kinematic analysis approach to model the overturning collapse mechanism of a rammed earth wall, and evaluate the lateral loading capacities of such walls.  A theoretical analysis as well as laboratory testing of the soil and full scale field tests at Princeton University and in Nepal were all conducted during the yearlong research project.  Furthermore, multiple site visits were made to rammed earth homes that had survived the major earthquakes in Nepal in an attempt to characterize potential crack patterns in the walls.  Ultimately, through these preliminary tests, my research demonstrated the viability of the kinematic model is approximating the lateral loading capacity of in reinforced and unstabilized rammed earth walls.

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