Fighting to Protect Our Community

Fighting to Protect Our Community


If I trace it backwards, I get here, to this
place, to this moment. I was 10-years-old. [Tom Brokaw on television: “Good evening,
a killer earthquake hit Mexico City this morning and they’re still counting the dead tonight.”] The earth shook, buildings crumbled, people
screamed. [Tom Brokaw on television: “Thousands more
have been injured. The effect was devastating.”] A city became rubble. I saw chaos. I saw fear. I vowed then that I would become an engineer
so I could protect those families. Notre Dame Professor of Engineering and Global
Affairs Tracy Kijewski-Correa has studied the impact of natural disasters around the
globe from earthquakes and tsunamis to hurricanes. So when we travel to these devastated places
as engineers we’re hoping to understand how our math and models truly have performed under
real-world conditions, but when you get there you have to have a certain sense of awe at
what mother nature can do. In that moment, when your breath has been
taken away the next thought in your mind is “well how can we do better?” Here at Notre Dame we built a platform called
NJcoast that brings all the critical information that first responders and urban planners need
to protect their communities into one location. Here in Keansburg, Superstorm Sandy definitely
had an impact. 75% of the town had water in it. Definitely a wake up call. New Jersey coast allows us to see how the
storm is gonna have a direct impact on our residents and how to better protect them. I arrived on this planet with a real hunger
to fix things and when we were able to do this NJcoast project it was an opportunity
for dreams to come true because I could look in the eye of people who were in the middle
of something catastrophic and know that we could finally stand there with them rather
than just watch from afar. The University of Notre Dame asks, “What would
you fight for?” Fighting to protect our community. We are the Fighting Irish.

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