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PIRE Trip from Rice University travel to the Netherlands


PIRE TRIP Overview/Summary of trip


    On June 1, the class of 2017 NSF PIRE flood risk reduction program embarked for the research trip to the Netherlands.  This multidisciplinary research group consists of sixteen sublime students from Texas A&M, Rice, and Jackson State University. They were selected to conduct individual research and at the same time, as members of teams, they were grouped by four case studies for collaboration. These teams helped the students to expand their knowledge across various disciplines and research interests. The students were given a variety of resources to use for their studies including information from several Dutch experts, translated Dutch documents, and advising from professors at PIRE’s partnering colleges. The trip included field visits to each of the four case study sites, a flood risk reduction workshop, lectures, interviews, and research meetings and presentations. The students made remarkable research progress in two weeks. The attendees for the final presentation, held in TU-Delft on the last day of the trip, were highly impressed by the students’ work. The students have been continuing their research after they got back to the States and the final papers of their work will be published by the end of the summer.


Student Testimonials/quotes


    “The PIRE trip allowed me to meet other researchers and experts in my field of Hydrology and learn about new approaches to mitigating and managing urban flood risk in coastal regions. It also gave me the chance to work in an interdisciplinary team, where I was exposed to many aspects of flood risk including social vulnerability, landscape planning, and risk communication. This program has pushed me to expand my research interests in order to foster collaboration with different fields and different universities.” -Avantika Gori

    “The 2017 PIRE trip revealed many of the opportunities that exist for me in the realm of science and engineering. I was given the chance to work with a team of amazing students and mentors as I explored one aspect of flood risk mitigation in the Netherlands. Through their words and actions I was taught how to formulate research questions and how to go about answering them. The trip and the people involved in it have shown me that I can have a future in research. The passion and joy they expressed in their work and the research process have solidified my belief that research is not only a career possibility of mine, it is a goal. What I experienced and witnessed on the trip has inspired me to continue down a path which will allow me to work with others on meaningful projects. I was able to make lasting friendships with the participants of the trip and felt honored to be able to work and travel with such a fun, intelligent, and wonderful group of people.” -Dominic Herkes


    “PIRE was more than just research, it also gave me the amazing opportunity to talk to Dutch people in person about their

    country and how they solve problems. It truly gave me a much more international perspective on regional and global issues. The opportunity to have discussions with professors from a wide variety of disciplines and universities also helped me figure out my academic and professional future.” -George Barrow


    "The NSF PIRE program introduced me to international perspectives, technologies, and design strategies pertaining to flood risk reduction that positively impacted my future career goals in environmental engineering. The program's immersive structure involving site visits and expert interviews helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the research we were conducting and its implications for flood risk mitigation strategies in the upper Texas coast. I highly value the program's focus on engagement and interaction. I learned so much from the conversations I was fortunate to have, whether they were with a Dutch Sand Engine expert or a fellow member of my cohort. The incredibly diverse and intelligent group of people I was surrounded by throughout the program truly made this experience unforgettable."-Connie Do


Rice Student Project Overviews


Carl Bernier is a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. His research focuses on the multi-hazard reliability and risk assessment of aboveground storage tanks. While in the Netherlands, he studied the potential and the effects of water-driven debris impacts on aboveground storage tanks in the Port of Rotterdam. He also learned more about the risk management of storage tanks in Rotterdam and intends to see how it compares with Houston.

Dominic Herkes is currently an undergrad at Rice University studying civil and environmental engineering with a focus in hydrology or environmental engineering. In the Netherlands, Dominic was part of the New Towns Case Study looking into Almere and IJburg. His focus is on the pumping and drainage system in Almere and comparing the decision making process for a pump facility there to that of a pump facility in New Orleans.

Connie Do is entering the M.S. in Environmental Engineering program at Rice University this fall. She is fascinated by the concept of engineering with nature to design features that mitigate coastal flood risk while minimally disrupting the naturally occurring processes in the region of interest. Her research focus for the PIRE program involves studying the Dutch Sand Engine in order to assess the viability of a mega-nourishment project along the upper Texas Coast.







Avi Gori is a Masters Student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University. She completed her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Rice in 2016 with a focus in Hydrology and Water Resources Management. Her research in the Netherlands investigates the impact of urbanization on flood risk, seeks to predict future flood risk in urbanizing watersheds, and attempts to evaluate structural and non-structural mitigation strategies. 

George Barrow is an undergraduate studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. He is researching the Room For The River project's implementation in Nijmegen, and documenting how the project has affected the city's land use plans for its northern expansion.









* Previous TU-Delft and SSPEED Research Collaborations





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