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UB Hosts Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

participants pose for a group photo

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MCEER held its Second Annual Seismic Design Competition for Undergraduates in the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory at the University at Buffalo. Teams of undergraduates from Florida A&M University (FAMU), University of Nevada-Reno (UNR), New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and the University at Buffalo (UB) brought their structures, made of balsa wood, to see how well they would perform under severe earthquake excitations. The competition was held on January 28, 2006.

This year’s competition was scored using a performance-based scoring method which considered each building’s usable floor space, initial building cost (building weight and land occupied beneath the building), architecture and workmanship, presentation quality, and the building’s seismic performance. UB faculty S. Thevanayagam and Gilberto Mosqueda, and past SLC Chair and UB Ph.D. candidate Jeff Berman, were the judges.

The competition began with a presentation by each team that discussed their structural design, lateral force resisting system, structural control devices, and construction methods used. The teams then headed to the laboratory to weigh their buildings and attach them to the shake table for the seismic performance evaluation. Records from historical earthquakes with increasing intensity were used.

After each motion, the judges evaluated each structure and “tagged” it with a green, yellow, or red tag. A red tag indicated heavy damage and the possibility of collapse. If a structure received a red tag from all three judges, it was not allowed to advance to the next motion. The seismic performance was based on building drift and roof acceleration during each of the ground motions. Teams that were able to minimize the amount of drift and acceleration during each motion received higher scores.

Following the seismic performance evaluation, MCEER Deputy Director and UB professor Andre Filiatrault was commissioned for demolition. Subjecting each building to the “UB Rumble,” he was able to heavily damage and topple most of the buildings. In the end, the UB and FAMU buildings were still standing.

Teams used different forms of lateral force resisting systems and structural control technologies including viscous dampers, viscous walls, a tuned liquid mass damper, and a 3D moment frame building. The buildings showcased some truly innovative and carefully designed structural systems.

The competition results were announced during an evening banquet. Douglas Taylor, CEO of Taylor Devices, Inc. gave a presentation on “The Life of a Design Engineer” pertaining to his years of experience in the field of shock and vibration control which lead into another presentation, “Seismic Dampers for the Torre Mayor Project.” He explained how Taylor Devices assisted in the design and implementation, and manufactured the viscous dampers used in this high rise building located in Mexico City.

This year’s winner of the competition was the University at Buffalo team, followed closely by Florida A&M University. The UB team will travel to San Francisco, California to compete in the Tri-Center competition against teams from PEER and MAE in April 2006.

MCEER would like to thank all the undergraduates who participated in this event; their enthusiasm is what continues to make the competition a success. MCEER would also like to thank Douglas Taylor, and the SLC members and faculty who assisted the undergraduates in their designs. Detailed information about the competition is available from the MCEER SLC website.

-Submitted by Michael Pollino, University at Buffalo

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2006

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