2014 EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition: Results

Over 175 students participated in the 2014 EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition (SDC) external link icon, organized by the EERI Student Leadership Council (SLC), held during the 2014 EERI Annual Meeting and 10NCEE. Teams of undergraduate students from EERI Student Chapters at universities across the U.S. and from around the world brought their balsa wood high-rise structures to Anchorage to see if they could survive the 1940 El Centro earthquake, 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the SLC-designed UC Davis “extreme ground motions.”

The competition kicked off on Wednesday with team presentations and posters, followed by the 3rd Annual Calcutta Auction that evening. EERI Honorary Member Chris Poland (M. EERI, 1978) resumed his role as auctioneer, and the bidding was spirited. Nearly $6,000 was raised to ensure the support of future seismic design competitions.

Chris Poland (M. EERI, 1978) and the student team from the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca (Romania)Thursday was filled with excitement as teams put their structures to the test on a shaking table. Those structures that did not fall after the three ground motions usually met their end with a final sine sweep.

On Friday, the competition students joined 10NCEE meeting attendees for the closing plenary session where the SDC awards ceremony was held. Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, who travelled to the competition all the way from Romania, won first place. Finishing in second and third places were teams from the University of California Berkeley and the California State University of Los Angeles, respectively.

The Romanian team scored well because they controlled seismic performance (by minimizing roof drift via a relatively stiff design) while dramatically minimizing structural model weight. The design used an overlapping X bracing lateral system with inclined mega-columns at the base of the model. The structural model itself was one of the lightest, being only 1.4 lbs. The other models that scored well this year that survived the third UC Davis ground motion were heavier, where structural model weight is detrimental for overall score. The other lighter models from the teams that typically do well, unfortunately, were not able to survive the third UC Davis ground motion this year, so they were placed in the collapsed category. The Romanian team’s presentation and architecture rankings gave them performance bonuses that also increased the score gap.

Three additional awards were presented during the ceremony. The Kinemetrics Award for Spirit of the Competition was awarded to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona received the Degenkolb Award for Structural Innovation, and the CSI Communication Award was presented to the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca.

Generous support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Computer and Structures, Inc., Degenkolb Engineers, Oregon State University, California Earthquake Authority, Kinemetrics, and the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) made the 2014 EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition possible.