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CCEE team scores top five in EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

A team of six undergraduate CCEE students brought home third place in seismic cost and fourth place in seismic performance in the 2024 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition in Seattle in early April. It is the highest ranking a CCEE team has ever achieved. 

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, which included Anusha Dasanayaka (captain), Emily Boldor, Jake Parrott, Keelyenne Tobin, Luis Medina Martinez, and Samuel Munoz-Valerio, competed against about 40 universities from across the world with their structure named The Cascades.

CCEE graduate student David Comaniciu, who served as the CCEE team’s advisor, said he is “extremely proud of the team’s performance in this year’s EERI Seismic Design Competition.

“After months of designing and constructing their balsa wood structure, their structure survived one of the toughest ground motions in competition history, which destroyed more than 50% of the structures this year. They were challenged with a tough design that demanded intelligent structural engineering. The team went through different structural designs that they assessed using state-of-the-art structural analysis software. With only six team members, the team had to work exceptionally hard.”

Medina Martinez said it “felt great” to achieve such a high ranking in this year’s competition.

“This year, our team consisted of new members, so we focused on learning as much as we could and working together to design and build a great tower,” he said. “I believe that’s exactly what we accomplished. We came together as a group, investing many hours to achieve this success. Our strategy involved first designing and analyzing various designs using SAP2000 to predict acceleration and displacement until we found one we were comfortable with. During the construction phase, team members worked long hours in different sections of the building — walls, floors, and lateral bracing — and then assembled them to create the building we have now.”