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MCEER Bulletin, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2007

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Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2007

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MCEER Team Wins Egor Popov Prize in the First Annual Tri-Center Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

NJIT team

The NJIT team won the Egor Popov prize (from left): Indira Hernandez, Britain Materek, Diana Rodriguez, Anthony Massari, Shefali Patel, Steven Flormann, and Adam Enea

FAMU team

Members of the FAMU Team (from left): Aaron Williams, Denaye Hinds and Glen Wieger

UB team

Members of the UB Team (from left): Masamichi Ikeda, Laura Przybylski, Jeremy Gworek, Donald Taylor, Walter Fairlie

This spring, in conjunction with EERI, the three earthquake engineering research centers (MCEER, PEER, & MAE) hosted the Fourth Annual Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition in Los Angeles, California. The competition has been held for the past three years to promote the study of earthquake engineering among undergraduate students. Some of the competition participants have continued on into the MCEER summer REU programs and also into graduate school, studying civil and earthquake engineering.

A total of 14 teams competed in the event, three representing MCEER. These were Florida A&M University (Glen Wieger, Aaron Williams, Denaye Hinds, Don Cesarone and Daniel Benitez.); New Jersey Institute of Technology (Adam Enea, Steven Flormann, Indira Hernandez, Britain Materek, Anthony Massari, Shefali Patel and Diana Rodriguez); and the University at Buffalo (Donald Taylor, Masamichi Ikeda, Jeremy Gworek, Walter Fairlie and Laura Przybylski).

The teams were charged with designing a scaled high-rise office building out of balsa wood. They were to incorporate some form of structural control into their design to mitigate the effects of earthquakes. Limiting the height of each structure to five feet and the total weight to fifteen pounds were the most important challenges facing the teams year.

As in past competitions, each team’s main objective was to maximize their structure’s net income, a function of building cost, income, and seismic cost. The building cost was based on the total weight of the structure, income was determined by the building’s total usable floor area, and seismic cost by the performance of the building subjected to a few historical earthquakes. Performance was measured in terms of the structure’s relative displacement and roof top acceleration. Teams were also given bonus increases for their presentation, poster, and architectural creativity.

With restrictions on certain forms of structural control, teams had to find creative ways to implement energy dissipation devices, making the contest a good learning experience. Some teams used friction dampers, while others used elastic absorbers in chevron brace configurations and torsion to dissipate energy. Some of the more memorable designs included a twisting torso model, a rotating star design, and a model with exterior lattice bracing.

The University at Buffalo team placed sixth overall and the New Jersey Institute of Technology team won the Egor Popov Prize for Structural Innovation with their “torsional structure.” Oregon State University (PEER) won the overall top prize.