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CCEE faculty, students gain valuable insights at 12NCEE

Eight CCEE undergraduate students, eight graduate students and three faculty members — Drs. Mervyn Kowalsky, Ashly Cabas and Andy Ziccareli — journeyed to Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 27 to July 1 to attend the U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering (12NCEE), hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). The CCEE group participated in conference sessions, committee meetings and networking events. 

Kowalsky said the conference, which is held every four years, brings together individuals in the earthquake field such as engineering, public policy, social science) to share advances in research and practice.

“I attended the conference because I serve on an EERI committee and am on the editorial board of the EERI Journal,” he said. “I also attended as the faculty advisor of the EERI student chapter, as well as to attend conference presentations and interact with people I have not seen in some time and to support our graduate students.”

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox opened 12NCEE with a keynote speech about advancing seismic safety in Utah. 

“Your jobs are so important,” Cox said as he addressed the crowd. “We need your help.”

At the conference, Cabas was awarded the EERI Shah Family Innovation Prize, which honors young professionals and academics under the age of 35 who excel in “creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the field of earthquake risk mitigation and management,” according to EERI.

“It is a huge honor to receive this award from EERI,” Cabas said when the winners were first announced in December. “I felt excited and motivated to keep working on the technical and social aspects of my work that I am most passionate about. I also felt supported by an outstanding professional community in the field of risk mitigation and management. Shortly after the EERI made the official announcement, I received many emails from colleagues, friends, and family with the kindest of words and best wishes for the future. I felt blessed and so fortunate. To me, that was the best prize.”

CCEE competed in this year’s EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

Another highlight from the conference was graduate students Victor Calderon, Diego Martinez and Jessi Thangjitham presenting papers on their research. 

The CCEE undergraduate students also competed in the annual EERI Seismic Design Competition with dozens of other universities from around the world. The contest involves shaking teams’ constructed balsa wood towers on a shake table to see if they can survive a devastating earthquake while supporting weights. The CCEE team’s building was dubbed ‘Ventus Tower” and included an innovative socket connection in the upper building floors. CCEE graduate students Thanjitham and Nancy Ingabire were part of the student leadership council that ran the competition, and graduate students Julio Samayoa and Taylor Brodbeck served as advisors.