From July 22 to July 25, Cal Seismic Design traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, to compete at the 2014 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Overall, they finished second out of 28 teams from all over the world.
Co-captains James Acevedo and Mara Minner led the team, which included seven other UC Berkeley civil engineering students: Jordan Gilles, Lillian Fan, Chad Yu, Nasser Alkmim, Lawrence Padaoan, Henry Teng and Katherine deLaveaga.
For the past two months, the team has been working Monday through Saturday each week to build a structure that could withstand the rigorous testing at the competition. The team ended up with a 5-foot-tall wooden scale model of a skyscraper with 29 intricately designed floors.
“We actually tested our structure twice at Berkeley, and it failed both times,” Minner said. “So we had no idea what would happen.”
During the competition, the structure was placed on a shake table that had three earthquake settings. Despite initial fear regarding the magnitude of the competition, especially with two failed test runs in past, Cal Seismic Design’s tower lasted through all three rounds without breaking.
“And then after that the people who run the competition try to break the structure with the most intense ground motion they can possibly throw at it. And ours actually broke the shake table before our structure broke,” Gilles, a junior, said.
“We beat the machine!” Acevedo, a senior, said.
In addition to the building’s performance on the shake table, teams were graded on their architecture, presentation and poster. Cal Seismic Design placed fifth in architecture, third in presentation and second in poster design.
For a fun in-depth look into their experience at the competition, check out this video.