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UB Team Participates in the Tenth Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

2012 USDC Group Photo

UB team photo (from left to right): Kaitlin Gorski, Justin Woodruff, Winifred Lao, Matt Keilson, Matt Thogerson, Nick Diflorio, Sean McTigue, Marc Tatarsky, and Craig Laudani.


The University at Buffalo’s Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition team participated in this year’s 10th annual competition in Seattle, WA, which was held on February 13-15, 2013. Nine members attended the event, including co-captains Justin Woodruff and Sean McTigue, Kaitlin Gorski, Matthew Keilson, Matthew Thogerson, Winifred Lao, Marc Tatarsky, Craig Laudani, and Nick Diflorio. The team also included several members who were unable to attend the competition, including Anna Kelting, Sara Mantas, and Stephen Coley.

Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, all the team members worked very hard and devoted their extracurricular time to the design, testing, and construction of the model building. This year’s team decided on a unique design which challenged the common practices of a strong central core, and instead broke the core into four columns placed at the outside corners of the structure. The final model also included observation points meant to pay homage to the Space Needle in Seattle, as was part of the problem statement provided by the competition. Testing was made possible with the support of Thomas Albrechcinski, SEESL/UB-NEES Site Operations Manager, who provided a mini shake table to simulate the testing experienced at the competition. UB doctoral students, most notably Maikol Del Carpio Ramos, also provided helpful insights and assistance with computer analysis during the design and testing phases of the project.

At the competition itself, the team gave a presentation on the design of the building and key features followed by a question and answer period from a panel of judges. There was also a poster presentation during which time team members were able to network with professionals attending the conference, as well as other teams to share experiences.

During the shaking on the final day of the competition, the UB model survived GM1 and GM2 very well with no damage. However, it collapsed during the third earthquake motion, and the team placed 23rd out of the 35 teams participating. With several returning members next year, the team looks forward to the opportunity to build on this experience and improve next year.

The event also included a Calcutta auction, and the team's building was ‘bought’ for $150 by Marshall Lew, an engineer from Los Angeles. UB's own doctoral student Maria Koliou provided the opening bid.

This year’s team took special advantage of the trip to Seattle to experience not only the competition and conference but also what the city had to offer. Through communication with the UB Alumni Association, the Seattle alumni organized a unique opportunity to meet with them and to share their experiences, advice, and even some local entertainment suggestions. It was a great networking opportunity, especially for the senior members of the team who will be looking for references after graduation.

- Submitted by Justin Woodruff, 2013 team co-captain

For more information on this year’s and past competitions, visit our Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition page.