Structures team working in Fiji

Structures team leads undergraduate students in supporting Fiji school rebuilding

As Fiji continues to rebuild after Cyclone Winston in February 2016, staff from Calibre Consulting are proud to have supervised a team of RMIT University civil and infrastructure engineering students as they developed engineering design and construction plans for the rebuilding of a school on Fiji’s remote Koro Island.

Category 5 Cyclone Winston swept through Fiji with 330km/h winds causing mass destruction and completely flattening some areas. It is the most powerful cyclone to make landfall in the South Pacific region, with 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed and roughly 40 percent of Fiji's population significantly impacted by the storm.

Approximately 265 schools were severely damaged (63 completely destroyed), leaving around 100,000 children in temporary school facilities as the schools await to be rebuilt.

Calibre’s James Tabban, Manager – Structures, led eighteen undergraduate students in their final year of engineering to design an economical and locally appropriate structure which will provide three classrooms for around 60 children on Koro Island.

“The project provided students not only an opportunity to contribute to a worthy development, but also offered unique learning challenges associated with building structures in remote locations with limited resources,” James Tabban said.

“Koro is an eight-hour ferry ride from the main island of Fiji (Viti Levu). Students needed to consider the logistics of getting materials to a site in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as well as what resources and skills the community can or cannot contribute.

“As a result, everything was modularised, with the idea that all materials can be conveyed in one container and involve little or no specialist skills to construct.”

Students participated in the project as part of a three-week intensive Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program, which provides an Engineers Australia (EA) accredited alternative to the 12 weeks of work placement students are required to complete before they can graduate.

James Tabban worked with RMIT in 2015 to set up the WIL program in response to the shortage of placement availabilities for engineering students. His structures team has now helped to lead two successful sessions.

Although this year’s WIL program has concluded, the students are able to continue working on the schools rebuilding project in Fiji as the works progress.

The school on Koro Island is being delivered as part of the Schools Rebuilding Schools in Fiji

initiated by the Reach 4 Your Future Foundation and supported by the RMIT University School of Engineering.

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