Did you know the February earthquake in Chile which followed the devastating quake in Haiti in January this year was 500 times stronger, but caused only 1% of the loss of life which was attributed to the Haitian earthquake? Why the difference, when the earthquake in Chile was so much stronger? In the eight minute TEDTalk video, “Haiti’s disaster of engineering,” Peter Haas explains why the overwhelming loss of life in Haiti was caused primarily by ENGINEERING and construction failures, not natural forces.

This is a real eye opener. If we want to help more students enter STEM career fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) many things are needed. One important need is helping students understand why engineering matters. This video provides a vivid example and story about how engineers can make a HUGE difference in the lives of millions of people.

WARNING AND TIP: As is the case (unfortunately) with many YouTube videos, the comments on this video are not moderated and include profane as well as tasteless sentences. If you’re going to share this with students, consider one of the following options so no one is subjected to the comments:

  1. Download the video to your local hard drive, instead of playing it directly from YouTube.
  2. Play the video from the TEDTalks website, instead of YouTube.
  3. Play the video on YouTube from within the TEDTalk channel, rather than on its separate YouTube page. (This view doesn’t show comments.)*

According to his TED bio page:

Inveterate tinkerer Peter Haas is the co-founder of AIDG, the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, which connect people to electricity, sanitation and clean water through a combination of business incubation, education, and outreach.

Peter’s work would be great to share with students who are talking about ways to make a big difference in the world. I’m thinking of work Paul Allison and others are doing with students in the National Writing Project, as well as discussions Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes, and Alice Barr had with Adora Svitak recently. I’m also thinking of the amazing students at TEDxRedmond.

* Hat tip to Daniel Rezac for sharing this great “in channel YouTube video playing” tip in his recent post and screencast, “You-tilizing YouTube in the Classroom.”

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6 Responses to Construction Engineers and Concrete Masons can save MILLIONS of lives (Haiti earthquake story)

  1. Wesley Fryer says:

    QuietTube is a great option to use as well. Hat tip to Michael Kaechele.

  2. D. Costa says:

    This is a very informative video. I’m very glad that the citizens of Haiti will have structured buildings so if there were to a another earth quake the citizens will at least be safe.

  3. Tommy says:

    That was a compelling speech. It is interesting how a sub topic of the speech was how Chile had under a 1000 casualties because of how the architect was so well built. It was due to the fact that Chile is a more economically stable country than Haiti and that is possible because Chile has a better education system than Haiti. If Haiti had a better education system than the economy would be better and that would mean high paying engineers and architects building earthquake proof buildings. Haiti has seen the mistake and now they are better educating their engineers and architectsw.

  4. Julienne says:

    Hi. I’m an 11th grader in AUSD. I’m impressed that you took the initiative to explain what really was the causes of millions of people deceased by the earthquake in Haiti. I agree with your idea that the construction engineers and concrete masons should learn how to build more stable, strong, and safe buildings. I think it would really make a difference. I used to study French and during the time that I was in that class, my teacher told us this horrible incident. So we had a plan to raise money as fast as we can so we could send it to the people that survived the earthquake as soon as possible. Fortunately, we raised $1000, we felt really good about it. I hope it helped the citizens of Haiti.
    More power to your work.

  5. Ken says:

    This video has really important information about avoiding tragedies in the world. These solution’s could save thousands of lives. Making more secure buildings are really important in saving lives, even if its more expensive. Engineers and constructors should have more tools or help to build better buildings.

  6. James says:

    Very informative. He is right, Chile got shaken harder and had fewer casualties, because of engineering. He is right, it’s not just engineering but also available building material. Could geodesic domes be practical and worth investing in for Haiti? Nice to see that responsible engineering is still a primary concern and will continue to be invested in. Mutual support for your work.

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