Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo
Lehigh University logo

Lehigh group earns first trip to Seismic Design Competition

Civil undergraduate seniors to compete in EERI contest in Portland this March.

The Lehigh University student chapter of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) has qualified for the national organization's 2017 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, which will take place from March 7-10, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

This is the first year Lehigh students have submitted proposals. They are one of 35 teams from across the world that will participate in the Competition. The objectives of the Competition are to promote the study of earthquake engineering among undergraduate students, to build professional relationships between EERI student members and EERI professional members, and to provide civil engineering undergraduate students with an opportunity to work on a hands-on project designing and constructing a cost-effective frame building to resist seismic loading.

To qualify, the team of four undergraduate studentsKatherine Brody, Sarah Dudney, Christopher Irwin (team captain), and Alex Keller, all '17 – put together a proposal that worked through a challenge to design a fictional building in Portland's downtown. It has special aesthetic and functional specifications and must be structurally sound for the city's unique landscape and position near three shallow crustal faults.

Their proposal was reviewed by the group's faculty advisor, James Ricles, the Bruce G. Johnston Professor of Structural Engineering and Deputy Director of the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center.

The group's two graduate student advisors – Xin Chu '17 Ph.D. and Amy Kordosky, '17G – provided significant technical guidance and review on the proposal, as well as motivation, advice, and other forms of assistance and coordination for the students.

Their proposal earned them a spot in the final competition for which they'll design and build a scaled model of the building out of balsa wood to be tested on a shake table. The school with the design and model that proves to be the most cost-effective overall, when multiple factors are considered including seismic cost, will be the winner.

Because EERI at Lehigh is a graduate student organization, an added benefit of the competition is increased collaboration and cooperation between undergraduate and graduate students in the CEE department at Lehigh.

Brody is one of the undergraduate students on the team. Since becoming involved with EERI and the Seismic Design Competition, she's had a great deal more contact with Lehigh's graduate programs and considers many of the CEE graduate students she works with mentors who help her and her teammates talk through complex engineering ideas and concepts.

"I get to see the full effects on the entire structure, rather than certain members, widening my perspective on structures in general," Brody said. "And I am using material based off of classes I am currently enrolled in, as well as past classes."

She says joining the team has encouraged her to pursue further studies in structural engineering with research in seismic design and analysis upon graduation.

Read the full story at the Civil and Environmental Engineering web site.

-John Gilpatrick is the Communications Specialist with Lehigh University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

January 9, 2017

Related Links