CAN HAITI’S BUILDINGS WITHSTAND THE NEXT EARTHQUAKE?

CARLOS DE OLIVEIRA & MICHAEL GRAY, alumni, Department of Civil Engineering

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THE PROBLEM

Most buildings today are constructed using manually-fabricated connections that anchor steel tubing to the frame of the structure. These sorts of connections can withstand wind, but they’re still susceptible to earthquakes.

THE INNOVATION

Standardized connectors that allow buildings to make it through an earthquake intact.

THE APPROACH

Cast Connex incorporated in May 2007 based on the Master’s research of then-student Carlos de Oliveira, who is now the company’s CEO. Both he and co-founder Michael Gray, Cast Connex’s vice-president, were co-supervised at U of T by civil engineering professors Constantin Christopoulos and Jeffrey Packer.

THE IMPACT

The company’s connectors are in buildings around the world and will be part of the World Trade Center reconstruction. Cast Connex recently donated its products to the reconstruction of a Haitian trade school damaged by the 2010 earthquake. The steel industry is paying attention because the technology is much more economical than the status quo, but the ultimate impact is in the lives saved by making buildings safer.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Gray and de Oliveira are preparing to roll out the company’s third product, a technology that will change the way energy is absorbed by buildings. It’s based on Gray’s doctoral research at U of T.

“We’re still a relatively young company but we’re fast becoming a major industry player. Five years ago I could never have imagined that I’d be the CEO of a company based on my own research. It’s incredible to see my research going into buildings all over the world.”
— Carlos de Olveira

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