E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003) is doing a series of E-veritas interviews with Ex Cadets living abroad. She interviewed 13928 Pierre Quenneville, PhD, PEng, (RMC 1979-83) who has been living in Auckland, New Zealand since July 2007. Pierre holds a BE (lst Class Hons), Royal Military College of Canada 1983, ME Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal 1986 and PhD. Queen’s University in Kingston 1992.
e-veritas: Your time at military college was served as both as a Cadet and as a member of the Faculty. From 2003-2007, you served as Head of Department, Dept of Civil Engineering, Royal Military College of Canada and 1988-2007 as Professor, Civil Engineering Department, Royal Military College of Canada.
Pierre Quenneville: All those years at Military College!. From Sept 79 to May 83, I was a Cadet. From 1986-1988, I served as a Project engineer, 1 Construction Engineering Unit, Canadian Armed Forces. From 1983-1986, I completed Post-graduate education and military engineer training. I then worked at RMC within the Civil Engineering Department from July 1988 to June 2007. A lot of memories for sure but I am very grateful for the education and leadership training opportunities. Undoubtedly, these are the most important ingredients of the success of my journey, both in Canada and in New Zealand. Time flies so fast. It has been 30+ years since graduation and I have not had a dull moment. The College, the military career and subsequently, the university environments meant that I always have worked with very professional individuals. I am very fortunate.
e-veritas: In 2007, the Canadian Wood Council, through its Wood Works! programme, awarded you the “Wood Advocate – Wood Champion” award for your long-time advocacy of timber in construction. Congratulations!
Pierre Quenneville: The award recognised my work in Canada at RMC to advance wood engineering, education and research. I also campaigned for the use of timber in more construction projects, and my research into efficient bolted connections is helping to set international building standards.
e-veritas: I read that you are putting New Zealand at the leading edge of international timber research. Is that what motivated / prompted you to move to Auckland to become Auckland University’s first Chair in Timber Design.
Pierre Quenneville: The job. It was the opportunity to be a chair in a world-leading university. I “Retired” in 1992 from the military. I am professor of timber design and currently Head of Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Auckland. The University of Auckland research program concentrates on large-span timber roofs and timber connections. Researchers use new methods to improve timber materials, fabrication methods and connections in engineered timber roof structures. http://www.mycustompublishing.com.au/e-news/issue31.html
e-veritas: You presented research in 2012 during at the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission of Inquiry into Building Failure Caused by the Canterbury Earthquakes. Any best practices or lessons learned? http://canterbury.royalcommission.govt.nz/
Pierre Quenneville: On 22 February 2011 the Canterbury region of New Zealand, including the city of Christchurch, suffered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in which 185 people died and many were injured. The Royal Commission was established to report on the causes of building failure as a result of the earthquakes as well as the legal and best-practice requirements for buildings in New Zealand Central Business Districts. My research specialty is teaching and research in structural design of timber buildings, structural engineering. The research focuses on improving the earthquake, fire and wind resistance, durability and flexibility of timber to compete with traditional materials like steel and concrete. Timber has many advantages as a building material; it is light, easier to transport, reduces construction time, and it is sustainable. In 2007, I coauthored ‘Earthquake Performance of Multi-storey Cross Laminated Timber Buildings” for the New Zealand Timber Design Journal. For the hearing on New Building Technologies, I co-presented:
• New Technology to Mitigate Damage to Timber Structures in Earthquakes, and
• A Numerical Study of Seismic Behaviour of Timber Shear Walls with Slip-friction Connectors
e-veritas: What do you usually do in your spare time?
Pierre Quenneville: I read (fiction, anthropology, social science) or get my hands dirty working on my BMW.
e-veritas: Do you run into many other Canadians, specifically ex-cadets there?
Pierre Quenneville: There are many Canadians in New Zealand. The University of Auckland enjoys a very good relationship with many Canadian universities and there are often Canadian visitors coming to Auckland. Some Ex Cadets as well.
e-veritas: Do you travel back to Canada regularly?
Pierre Quenneville: January 2014. I travel back to Canada at least once a year. I still participate in the development of the Canadian CSA timber design standard and we meet annually. I will be there in July as part of my sabbatical leave and will also attend the World Conference on Timber Engineering to be held in Quebec City in August.
e-veritas: How do you compare your present location with living in Canada?
Pierre Quenneville: While you had a hard Winter (or a true Winter, one may say), we just had, and still enjoy, a very nice Summer. I do not regret being here at all… I don’t miss the winter, specially the one you just had! New Zealand living is good. Great diversity of scenery packed within short distances. Almost a compact version of Canada. The cons are all to do with family and friends left behind. So, every opportunity of meeting one (or more) of them on a trip back to Canada is taken.
e-veritas: What if any were the challenges in adjusting to the local customs / culture etc?
Pierre Quenneville: Not much. New Zealanders are friendly and relaxed. The University working environment is also very cosmopolitan, so very interesting. The adjustments were more to do with moving into a larger town and away from the rest of the world. But of course, adjusting to the months and different seasons associated with the Southern hemisphere is always a funny challenge.
e-veritas: Anything else you’d like to add?
Pierre Quenneville: Anyone passing by Auckland is welcome to drop by. Regards.