Ex-BHS pupil has Fulbright for quake study

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014

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A former New Plymouth Boys' High School pupil has been awarded a prestigious $25,000 Fulbright scholarship.

Gye Simkin was the recipient of the Fulbright Graduate Student Award, which will help fund the 24-year-old's doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, where he will spend a year researching earthquake strengthening alongside leading researchers in his field.

"I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded such a prestigious scholarship," he said.

Simkin, who is studying towards a PhD in Civil Engineering at University of Auckland, applied for the Fulbright scholarship in late 2013 and it was officially given to him at the Beehive last month.

Scholarship grantees were selected on the basis of academic excellence, leadership potential and ambassadorial qualities, he said.

The scholarship will allow Simkin to study in the US for a year and will also cover travel expenses and insurance.

Simkin was excited about what he would research at Michigan, as a continuation of his work at the University of Auckland.

"I am very passionate in this field of research, and work hard to produce valuable results that will ultimately help with the Christchurch rebuild and to ensure buildings are earthquake safe in the future.

"My PhD research focuses on using sensor technologies to monitor the performance of buildings during earthquakes.

"The research aims to produce a system that is capable of determining the health of infrastructure in order to alert building owners and occupants of any damage that may occur."

Simkin is due to graduate with his PhD towards the end of 2016.

Other fulbright scholars from Taranaki over the years have included Dr Acushla O'Carroll, 2013 recipients Sarah Poole, Samantha Hill and Charlotte Till, and photographer Peter Peryer.

New Zealand Fulbright Alumni include Labour leader David Cunliffe, anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond and historians James Belich and Michael King.

The Fulbright programme was established in 1946 as an initiative to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between the US and other countries and Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948.

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