New Faculty Spotlight: Meet Paolo Calvi

Paolo Calvi joined the CEE department as assistant professor in structural engineering, beginning this September. Calvi obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto in June 2015 and comes most recently from the University at Buffalo, SUNY where he was a postdoctoral researcher.

The University of Washington’s reputation for teaching and research drew Calvi to Seattle, as well as the strength and collaborative nature of CEE faculty. In the structures area, the “faculty is a great mix of individuals that are world class experts in their respective research areas and UW is therefore a great place to be for a young assistant professor,” said Calvi. “I looked at UW as a place where I could get a chance to grow both personally and professionally and where I could give a significant contribution with my research.”

Calvi’s research focuses on the reduction of the risk of structural systems, considering all aspects of hazard, vulnerability and exposure while concentrating on understanding the response of existing structures. His research will include existing reinforced and prestressed concrete bridge structures involving the development of analytical models and tools, which can be used to assess the health of bridge structures that present cracks on their surface. Calvi will also work toward the development of a new base isolation device that exploits sliding surfaces characterized by variable friction, which can be used to enhance the seismic performance of buildings and other types of structures.

For Calvi, his field presents many developments and challenges that excite him. “One thing that I find particularly interesting is that structural engineers are at a stage where they need to face the complicated challenge of dealing with a very large number of existing structures that are reaching, all at the same time, the end of their design life,” said Calvi. “In this context, the resources available to retrofit or replace structures in need are absolutely insufficient. This calls for competent engineers who need to be able to understand and predict the behavior of all those structures and plan adequate strengthening interventions.”

In his free time, Calvi enjoys being active, including activities like windsurfing and playing sports, and plans to run the Seattle marathon in November. He also enjoys spending time with his fiancée, Chiara, and one and a half year old daughter, Bianca.

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