This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Simulated earthquakes to test student engineers’ high-rise models

Published: January 27, 2005

Contributing Editor

Civil engineering students from five universities will put their high-rise building models to the test on Saturday on the shake table at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences' Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory during the first Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition.

The shake-table testing will run from 2-4:30 p.m. in Ketter Hall, North Campus.

The competition, sponsored by the Student Leadership Council of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), headquartered at UB, will feature student engineering teams from UB, City College of New York, Florida A & M University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Nevada at Reno.

Each team's 32-inch-high structure will be subjected to shake-table simulations of the 1940 El Centro (7.1 magnitude), the 1994 Northridge (6.8 magnitude) and the 1995 Kobe (7.2 magnitude) earthquakes.

After each simulated earthquake, judges will inspect the structures for damage to see if they can remain in the competition for the next quake; construction costs and architectural workmanship also will be evaluated.

The structure that fares the best in all three categories will be declared winner.

"The goal is to give students a chance to do a hands-on project and gain practical experience by designing and fabricating a cost-effective structural model that can withstand severe earthquake simulation," said Andre Filiatrault, professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering and deputy director of MCEER.

"At the same time, we want to give students from these other schools a chance to explore the earthquake-engineering programs and facilities at UB and MCEER," said Jeffrey Berman, a doctoral candidate in civil, structural and environmental engineering at UB, coordinator of the competition and chair of the Student Leadership Council.

The winning team will then go on to the national competition to be held in April at the University of California, Berkeley.

In addition to Filiatrault, the judges will be S. Thevanayagam, associate professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering at UB, and Makola M. Abdullah, assistant professor of civil engineering at Florida A & M University.