Royce Floyd, who earned a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas in 2012, works 10 miles from the spot where an EF5 tornado touched down in Moore, Okla., on May 20.
As an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Oklahoma, Floyd joined a team of other researchers to gather data after the disaster. The team, which is sponsored by a Rapid Response grant from the National Science Foundation, collected information about the performance of buildings in the area. This data could help the people of Moore, and other communities facing threats from tornadoes, be better prepared.
Floyd and other faculty at OU worked with researchers from the University of Alabama, the University of Florida and Mississippi State University. Floyd and his OU colleagues are analyzing lateral load-bracing systems. He explained that houses in Moore built after the 1999 tornado are required to have a solid material, like plywood or oriented strand board, surrounding the walls. Solid outer walls can transfer force from winds into the foundation of the building, whereas walls that alternate wood with a nonstructural material, such as foam insulation, are more easily damaged. The OU researchers will compare data from these two types of lateral bracing to see the effect of these regulations on the survivability of the buildings. Read More