The Big One : Engineering for (& against) disasters

Big One Header

How can one prevent the potentially disastrous effects of THE BIG ONE if one doesn’t know when, where, or how it will hit or even what IT will be?

One big topic!

Our speakers share their personal stories including video footage and photographs from their post-earthquake research trips to Haiti, Chile, and China. Join the conversation about disaster engineering — social, political, scientific, or preparedness.

Two events!

Both events are free and open to the public.

Kennedy Library: Wed Oct 13, 3:30pm
Café Lounge on the 2nd Floor of the library. See the photos.
SLO Brew: Thu Oct. 14, 7pm
Upstairs in SLO Brew’s newly remodeled lounge.

Three speakers!

  • Dr. Robb Moss
    Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Anna Lang
    Cal Poly Alumna (ARCE 2001), PhD. Candidate UC San Diego
  • David Bland
    Cal Poly graduate student and representative, Engineers Without Borders

About The Big One

Threats from both natural (earthquakes, tsunamis, large-scale flooding) and anthropogenic disasters (terrorism, structural failure resulting from improper engineering or improper maintenance) are accounted for in engineering risk assessment. Add political, social, and fiscal pressures to the equation and you could have… a BIG mess.

How can one prevent potentially disastrous effects of THE BIG ONE if one doesn’t know when, where, or how it will hit or even what IT will be?

Join the Conversation!


Cal Poly community members, who face these challenging questions in their efforts to better engineer against disaster, guide us through conversation exploring recent disasters and related research meant to better understand failures that led to increased suffering or loss, or impeded response, a graduate student with Engineers Without Borders, an alumna now working for a federal disaster response agency, and Cal Poly faculty.

Download: Event Poster

About the Speakers

Robb Moss, Ph.D., P.E.
Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Moss’ areas of expertise include geotechnical earthquake engineering, engineering seismology, and risk and reliability with respect to earthquake engineering. Robb earned a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley with his research into probabilistic liquefaction triggering. He’s been a member of seven earthquake reconnaissance teams traveling to Chile, Alaska, Turkey, India, Mexico, and around California.


Robb has four years of consulting experience involving seismic geotechnics of onshore and offshore projects around the world. His consulting work focuses on probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, liquefaction engineering, and earthquake engineering hazard studies.


He has research into liquefaction of geologically older deposits, variance analysis of ground motion prediction equations, probabilistic tsunami modeling, liquefaction testing in China, seismic resistance and probability of failure of levees and levee systems, physical modeling of seismic soil structure interaction, probabilistic fault displacement analysis, and seismic earth pressures behind retaining walls. Funding for his research has come from various sources including NSF, DHS, PEER, USGS, CalTrans, CEC, ONR, UDOT, and others.


He is a registered professional engineer in the state of California and is a professional member of SSA, EERI, and ASCE. Robb is honored with membership in the Tau Beta Pi, Chi Epsilon, and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies and was awarded the 2006 Middlebrooks Award by ASCE. Further information and online access to publications can be found at his web site.


Anna Lang, Cal Poly Alumna (ARCE 2001)
Anna is a doctoral candidate in the Structural Engineering Department at UC San Diego, working with the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) in Washington, D.C. Ms. Lang’s research focuses on why buildings succeed or fail during disasters in developing countries. For her Cal Poly senior project Ms. Lang developed the use of a scrap tire for low-cost earthquake resistance. In her spare time Ms. Lang is a professional cyclist.


David Bland, Cal Poly Engineers without Borders
David is a graduate student from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is conducting research to evaluate and improve the earthquake resistance of interlocking compressed earth block (ICEB) masonry structures. ICEB masonry has the potential to provide sustainable, economical and safe housing in developing communities worldwide. David hopes that this research will directly influence and improve the current construction standards used for this emerging building technology.