Multidisciplinary project in Havana, Cuba

During the second quarter of 2019-2020, a group of 5 civil engineering students participated in a multidisciplinary project in Havana, Cuba. The goal of the project was to evaluate the impact of hurricanes on a power plant at the coast near Matanzas, about 100 kilometers east of Havana. This study had been set up by a professor from the technical university of Havana, because of the dramatic consequences of hurricane Irma in 2017. Due to this storm the sea defense had been destroyed and the power plant had to shut down meaning a large part of the surrounding area was without power.

The project focused on both the impact by waves and storm surge generated by the hurricane, but also accompanied rainfall. The model was calibrated and validated by looking waves, water levels and wind speeds during hurricane Irma. All hurricanes in the region from the past century were analyzed and with a probabilistic approach a design hurricane was set up. This design hurricane could then be simulated in the model that was set up.

Next, they combined these situations and designed a new sea defense that should be able to withstand the design hurricane. Both water entering the power plant site due to overtopping and rainfall leading to overland flow was taken into account and finally an integrated design was presented to the university and the construction company that designed and constructed the current (insufficient) design. The proposed design was set up as such that no destruction of the current design was needed to limit the costs. This way they could propose an economically viable design.

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