Day 05 of being in Auckland and I love the city. The atmosphere is friendly and open and it's a very walk-able place. My friends and I are staying in Parnell on the east side of the city right by the Spark Arena and Britomart. Campus is a short, 20 min commute away, by bus, down to Newmarket.
Our apartment is a comfortable 3 beddie that overlooks the docks out towards Devonport and Torpedo Bay. The sun shines straight into the living room and kitchen in the morning, and in the evening the sunset alights the city with a soft, warm glow. It's about a block's walk to Broadway where there are numerous shops, bakeries, restaurants, and bars. In about fifteen to twenty minutes one can take a stroll over to Queen St in the CBD and see the sky tower lit up at night, or walk down to Britomart and see the water.
This past Saturday I had some errands to run on my own and walked by the Auckland Museum. Currently, they have a butterfly exhibit on display, which my friends and I are hoping to check out one of the weekends we are here. After talking with some locals, they recommended allowing quite a few hours as the featured exhibit is one of many. The museum is also a war memorial and has exhibits devoted to commemorating the sacrifice of soldiers in the first and second world wars. Additionally, the beautiful classical architecture of the museum is set on a hilltop beside a large, public park surrounded by trees, rugby and soccer fields, and a few greenhouses.
Sunday ended up being a day filled with meeting new people at the church I tried out. One of my friends and I visited Greyfriars' Presbyterian in Epsom and then attended their cafe time in Mt Eden. We thoroughly enjoyed making connections with fellow Christians on the other side of the globe. One of the ladies we met even invited us over for lunch, and made a delicious meal. It was a blessing to be shown such kind hospitality and a reminder that we ought to care for and extend that kindness to people with the same love that Christ has demonstrated to us.
Yesterday and today was spent mostly at the university either sorting out access cards and ID's or meeting the professors and students I will be working with during the next two months. I learned more about the research I have been assigned to and was able to take a look at the test set up for one of the projects I am helping with next Monday. Ken Elwood, the faculty member I am working with, is the advisor for a few Part IV (senior) projects. One of them involves testing repaired, reinforced concrete beams. Typically, most concrete elements, whether they be beams, columns, walls, or moment frames, are tested at a constant loading rate and with the boundary conditions as specified by building code. Riley and Wendy, the two students I am working with, are following up on research which varies the loading rate and boundary conditions. The reasoning is that there is a better way to assess concrete than just one loading rate, and understanding how a beam behaves under cyclic as opposed to earthquake loading is key to designing safe, ductile buildings. The damaged elements are then repaired and run through the same testing as when they were first constructed so the behavior can be properly compared. This will allow for a robust assessment of the viability of repair techniques currently in use.
This in-depth field of study is particularly intriguing to engineers in New Zealand as nearly 60% of structures in the Christchurch earthquake were destroyed or demolished. Thus, there is great potential for better testing methods of both new structures and damaged ones. I am excited to be diving into this body of research and know it will be advancing my knowledge of concrete well-beyond what it currently is. I should get to post some pictures of testing in the next week or two, so stay tuned for cracked concrete with lines drawn all over it.
ps thanks to Rory S. for the cover shot with the skytower in the background!