Joshua Macabuag, Graduate of this Department, wins ICE Award

Joshua MacabuagJoshua Macabuag, graduate of the Department of Engineering Science (Pembroke College, Oxford 2007) and currently working as a Structural Engineer for Edge Structures in London, recently won first prize for his paper on the use of polypropylene straps to increase the earthquake resistance of rural houses in Nepal. The competition was organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

The award (a cheque for £1,500, three days Thomas Telford Training, a Thomas Telford book voucher and an ICE Medal) recognises Graduate and Student Papers on topical civil engineering issues. Joshua’s paper, “Extending the Collapse Time of Non-Engineered Masonry Buildings under Seismic Loading”, examined technical, social and economical issues surrounding the retrofitting of existing vulnerable houses. It originated from his undergraduate project work at Oxford which was supervised by Dr Bhattacharya and Professor Blakeborough.

Joshua Macabuag co-ordinating an earthquake construction training course in Nepal.Since leaving Oxford with a First Class degree, Joshua actively trains in aspects of international development through institutions such as ICE and charities such as Engineers Without Borders-UK (EWB-UK), spending time overseas. He has spent a year in South Africa with the charity, EWB-UK, working on local government community initiatives such as low-cost housing and environmentally sustainable water and sanitation projects. His work there was featured on a documentary for American television channel CNN where he was a volunteer reporter. He has also been instrumental in major international research projects – winning the Mondialogo Engineering Award in 2007/2008 for seismic retrofitting research in Nepal.

Of his time at the Engineering Science Department Joshua said: “I had decided on pursuing civil or structural engineering when I started university but was looking to understand the relationship between the different engineering disciplines and the common underlying principles, as well as going on to develop my chosen specialism. My supervisor, Dr Bhattacharya, was a major inspiration in encouraging me to apply my learning to a real development issue and has been central in my continuation of this work since graduation.

He added: “Civil and structural engineering touches so many aspects of people’s lives, from the grand, iconic structures like “the Gherkin” or Wembley Stadium to the most fundamental needs that underpin society through basic infrastructure and shelter. Put simply, I was attracted to civil and structural engineering because it allows you to develop real and physical projects; something tangible that is built and lets you feel that you are making a real and meaningful contribution to people’s lives”.

In his current job with Edge Structures, Joshua works on a wide range of projects emphasising quality and imagination. Edge’s portfolio includes several special structures such as timber grid shells, stressed skin designs, sculptures, modular construction, non-standard structural forms and moving elements, including the newly unveiled Wimbledon centre court retractable roof.

This September Joshua is taking two months off from his job with Edge Structures to go to Peru. Here he will work on a project with Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Lying in the Andes, the world’s longest exposed mountain range, Peru is an earthquake-prone zone. Joshua will conduct a field investigation into an earthquake retrofitting programme for vulnerable adobe (mud-brick) houses in Peru. Joshua believes ‘engineering is an ever-changing field and continued professional development is one of the most motivating aspects of the job.’