March 9, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 82  

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Western swims in cash Federal research money pours in

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff
Pete Bastedo/Gazette
AND THIS IS WHERE KEN WOULD SLEEP IF MATTEL BUYS MY DESIGN. Prof. Mike Bartlett shows off the model house to be tested in Western’s Wind Tunnel. Bartlett will receive $2,744,599 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Two business days, two big grants; since Friday, Western was awarded over $45 million for research from the federal government.

On Friday, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research granted Western $11 million for the Robarts Research and Lawson Health Research Institutes. Yesterday, the cash kept coming, when the Canada Foundation for Innovation gave Western a cool $34.1 million.

Valérie Poulin, media relations co-ordinator for CFI, reported that $535.9 million in grants was distributed to over 57 institutions in the country, including universities, colleges, research hospitals and other non-profit research institutes.

Nine national projects are included among the grants. “A lot of the projects are multi-institutional programs,” she said, adding more money fell to Western and other schools because they were the central administrative locations for these studies.

Western President Paul Davenport noted that Western’s CFI grant was the largest in the province. “This is number 1 in Ontario and a great tribute to our outstanding researchers.

“These are competitive, peer-reviewed grants, and our faculty have truly excelled,” he added.
Mike Bartlett, professor of civil and environmental engineering, is leading one of the projects set to benefit from the CFI grant.

“The idea is that we’re trying to simulate wind at full-scale on houses and light-framed buildings. It’s the idea of the three little pigs (the project’s nickname); we’re going to blow these things down,” he said.

Bartlett said the project will start with a one-fiftieth scale model with taps on it to measure the effects of turbulent wind on the structure, then take the data and apply it to a real, wood house.

“We don’t really design houses the way we design other buildings. We’re going to learn a lot more about the way they behave and therefore, how to build them more intelligently,” he said.

Houses are built based on historical standards upheld in the building code, Bartlett said adding, “without really knowing how to decide what the best answer is.

“Winds cause property damage and loss of life. This project was initiated with funding from the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction,” he said, explaining that insurance industries in Canada and the United States are paying out more claims due to extreme natural disasters.



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