On October 5th, GMS Partner Ramon Gilsanz visited Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to give a presentation entitled “Disaster Prevention.” The presentation was prepared by Ramon Gilsanz, Dan Eschenasy, Gia Antonelli, and Reed Miller, all from GMS, as well as Veronica Cedillos and Susan Bailey from Geohazards International (GHI). During the presentation, Gilsanz offered an introduction to previously employed practices, suggestions for improvement of coordination between architects and structural engineers, and methods to save human lives and reduce economic loss.

The presentation began with an overview of infamous disasters throughout history, ranging from 1750 BC to 1667 AD, and the empirically derived preventative measures enacted by varying world civilizations in response. After presenting this framework, Gilsanz pivoted to modern-day understanding of disasters, which relies on scientific measures. As he explained to his audience, this knowledge alone cannot impact modern-day countries’ responses to disasters; a country’s economic standing directly correlates to the number of disaster-related deaths experienced there.

With that in mind, Gilsanz explained methods of taking action to better prepare different societies for disasters. Gilsanz also highlighted the work of GeoHazards International (GHI), a nonprofit organization “dedicated to ending preventable death and suffering caused by natural disasters in the world’s most vulnerable communities,” and gave examples of their disaster prevention projects worldwide.

Ultimately, Gilsanz encouraged his audience, which included future structural engineers and leaders, to contribute to disaster prevention using the methods he outlined in his presentation. GMS is grateful to Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University for hosting this event, and to all the individuals who contributed to preparing this presentation.

Ramon Gilsanz pictured with Marta Mateo, Executive Director of Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University (FAS)