Alex Brodsky is fascinated by practical research that directly affects society: reducing the risk of human losses in extreme events due to natural and human-initiated disasters such as earthquakes, gas explosions, etc.
For his PhD at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Brodsky researched how masonry infill walls may prevent the progressive collapse of a building. He designed an innovative experimental facility that could measure the interaction stresses; he performed large-scale tests, and shed light on the infill-frame interaction to improve the simplified assumptions of previous studies.
During his postdoctoral work with a noted reinforced concrete research group at the University of Toronto, Dr. Brodsky investigated the behavior of reinforced and prestressed concrete elements. He participated in the investigation of the structural safety of the West Seattle Bridge. Early in his career, he investigated the collapse of a lighting rig at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem that killed one person and injured 6. His testimony in court pointed to poor design and careless inspection.
Extreme loading conditions cause structures to deform, crack and crush—complex behavior that is difficult to predict with analytical tools, no matter how advanced. Researchers at Dr. Brodsky’s advanced structural lab in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Ben-Gurion University use numerical and analytical methods. However, they also perform highly controlled physical tests on structures subject to such conditions, assessing the response of structural elements and characterizing their mechanisms and failure modes. The lab, called Structures Under Extreme Loads, enables the validation of innovative structural components and retrofitting techniques and opens new opportunities for collaboration with industry and other research centers. Such a testing facility is essential in a country with substantial seismic activity and terrorism threats. Dr. Brodsky hopes to eventually increase the robustness of structures and infrastructures and develop better code requirements to reduce casualties and economic losses.