By Peter Murphy
Published August 12, 2022
UB’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s seismic design team’s proposal earned fourth place, and the team finished inside the top 20 at the 2022 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) undergraduate seismic design competition.
Students used balsawood and glue to build a scale-model tower that would withstand earthquakes in the host city, Salt Lake City, Utah. UB’s team finished with one of the top proposals about a month before the in-person competition took place.
“Developing a fourth-place proposal took a substantial amount of time and effort,” says Eric Maier, senior civil engineering student and project manager for the seismic design team. “We divided the necessary parts of the proposal based on teammate’s specialties.”
The proposal highlighted the team’s planned structure. UB ASCE’s team developed an octagonal super structure, design to rest on a pile foundation that the geotechnical team recommended based on a study of Salt Lake City’s seismology.
After finishing the proposal and design, the team began to construct its tower in preparation for the four-day conference and competition. The team turned its tower over to judges on the first day and attended the opening ceremony. The second day featured presentations on the research and modeling associated with each tower. According to Emily Styn, civil engineering major and team project manager, the third day was the most intense part of the competition.
“The third day was ‘shake day.’ Most of the day was stressful as we waited our turn and worried the tower would not withstand the shake table,” Styn says. “The energy in the room was intense because every team was nervous. We watched multiple towers fall during testing, but the excitement we felt when our tower withstood the shake test was amazing. We were all so excited!”
UB’s team placed 17th this year in the overall competition and looks forwarded to building on its accomplishments in 2022. According to Alex Weik, civil engineering major and team project manager, the team will utilize 3D printed templates to guide the construction and building process and build an additional tower to test prior to the competition. This will allow the team to enhance its design and other elements of the tower prior to the competition.
Students interested in joining the seismic design team next year can reach out to UB ASCE directly at this link.