Kiana Nieves

Student: Kiana Nieves

Project: Cost-Benefit of Passive Fire Protection in Steel Framed Buildings | View Poster (PDF)

Institution: Lehigh University

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor: Spencer Quiel


Currently, a prescriptive approach is used to design fire protection for structural elements in buildings, and architects have the primary role in designing the fire protection. The problem with this fire protection approach is that it is does not indicate how the actual building would perform during and after fire conditions. Instead, the prescriptive fire approach states a minimum level of resistance to which the building must be constructed, based on the construction type. Performance based design, or structural fire engineering, has become a new approach to fire protection which requires an engineer to have a more central role in design. This new approach will require a knowledge of fire-induced structural behavior in a building and will allow for fire protection to be optimized or tailored to the system based on how the structural elements perform under fire conditions. Understanding realistic fire response can allow for the reduction of passive fire protection on secondary structural elements such as filler floor beams. This can, ultimately, decrease construction costs and positively affect the construction schedule as well. This project focuses on the costs and benefits associated with spray-proofing every structural element in a steel-framed building and comparing that cost based on different construction types, while also considering the risk of damage due to realistic fire exposure.

About Kiana Nieves

Kiana Nieves, is currently a senior pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering at Lehigh University with a minor in Professional Spanish. She became a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar in the Fall of 2016 and continued her research experience through the Research for Undergraduates Program in the Summer of 2017. She worked with Professor Spencer Quiel on performance-based fire protection design for steel composite floor systems. She is also working in Professor Muhannad Suleiman’s lab, with the guidance of P.h.D candidate Rehab Elzeiny, investigating the thermo-mechanical soil-structure interaction of laterally loaded energy piles and the potential effects of heat exchange on soil properties. Apart from her involvement in research at Lehigh University, she is a part of the Student Senate, as a representative of the Off-Campus constituency, a member of the Diversity & Inclusion committee and a voting-member of the Allocations committee. Also, she currently serves as the Vice President of Community Outreach for the Construction Management Organization. Upon graduation in May 2019, she will be moving to Orlando, Florida to work as a Civil Engineer in Training at Kimley Horn.

Lehigh Engineering Undergraduate Research Symposium

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