EERI Student Chapter Attends Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

students in the EERI group at a competition, smiling around their balsa wood structure
PSU EERI chapter members show off their balsa wood structure at the Seismic Design Competition

The PSU student chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) traveled to San Diego to take part in the 17th Annual Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition from March 2nd-6th. The competition coincided with the National Earthquake Conference allowing students to network with professionals. The traveling team of five took the opportunity to learn more about the industry of earthquake engineering and seismic research.

At the competition, each team is tasked with designing, analyzing, and building a balsa wood structure with a given set of guidelines. This year, the design was constrained to a horizontal L-shaped structure ranging from 13 to 19 stories. The structure's performance was evaluated on a shake table to simulate earthquake shaking. Additionally, teams prepared a poster with a rendering of their structure, a seven-minute presentation, an auction slide, and analysis results using SAP2000. The teams found their structure’s acceleration and displacement using the ground motions provided by EERI’s Student Leadership Council (SLC). Teams were placed by determining the annual income and seismic cost based off their floor area. Understanding the economics involved in new construction is a highly practical skill that will benefit team members once they begin working as engineers.

Aside from the presentations and shaking, the competition provided several learning opportunities. Our team attended the Post Earthquake Reconnaissance Workshop run by earthquake professionals. Their goal was to minimize disaster and risk following a seismic event. Determining whether a building is safe to enter the post-seismic events is crucial to getting society back up and running. There was also a walking tour of downtown San Diego led by SLC members and an award’s banquet recognizing student's efforts. It was a great opportunity to take part in. 

We are excited about next year’s competition, and have already begun planning for it!