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From Theory to Practice: Asset Management in the Classroom and the Field

Written by: Allison Preston

This summer, I participated in Notre Dame’s Infrastructure Asset Management program in New Zealand, which consisted of a three-week study abroad course in asset management and then a nine-week internship in an infrastructure asset management field. My internship was with the Auckland Council located in Auckland, New Zealand, the local governing council of the region. They are responsible for any issues within the council area and oversee a portfolio of 3500 buildings. During my internship, I acted as a Seismic Assessment Intern under the supervision of senior asset manager Dr. Reza Jafarzadeh. My primary role in the program was assisting in site inspections and the completion of seismic assessment reports of council-owned properties, particularly those found in regional parks. The goal of these assessments was to determine the seismic-structural risk of those properties by giving them a seismic score.

Working with my supervisor, I also researched and developed a decision-making framework for the risk management of “earthquake-vulnerable” buildings. This decision-making framework was developed to help improve the development of the Council’s new seismic policy by prioritizing the earthquake-vulnerable buildings in its portfolio according to factors such as vulnerability, society, finances, heritage, etc. Once prioritized, the buildings can be seismically retrofitted, and long-term life-cycle plans can be made. The research I performed and its use to write a technical conference article improved my communication and writing skills since I had to communicate the data collected in the field inspection to the buildings’ stakeholders, the Council primarily, for their decision-making process. My writing of the conference paper and preparation for its presentation will continue to build upon those skills in the upcoming months until completion in April 2019. This project has given me a better understanding of the work in the seismic – structural assessment areas of the engineering industry. My internship provided me a deeper understanding of the coursework materials that I have learned while at Notre Dame. It also provided me the opportunity to practice the sustainability and life-cycle resiliency lessons I learned at the beginning of the summer in the asset management course.

Additionally, performing on-site inspections with the Council provided me with team building skills and hands-on learning that has enhanced my technical background in engineering by providing me with the opportunity to learn and assess a variety of structure types to rate their seismic status.

 Brianna Zawacki is a senior double-majoring in civil engineering and physics with a minor in mathematics. 


To learn more about the Infrastructure Asset Management Program in New Zealand, visit the home page. Interested in applying? Applications are now open