Engineers to predict building’s reaction to earthquake simulation

A unique contest is giving engineers the chance to predict how a seven-story reinforced concrete building responded to earthquake-strength movement that has been rumbling beneath it since October 2005.

The Portland Cement Association, in partnership with the School of Engineering at the University of California at San Diego and the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Consortium, will sponsor the contest, which is open to all practicing engineers and researchers. The contestants will not be able to see the building, which was subjected to increasingly intense ground motions for four months, and will have to base their predictions on responses measured during testing.

The full-scale vertical slice of a seven-story building received tremor treatment from the NEES Outdoor Shake Table, a 25-foot-by-40-foot platform capable of shaking at speeds of 6 feet per second. The size of the shake table allowed testers to recreate the seismic motion that occurred at the Sylmar Medical Facility in Sylmar, Calif., during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

All entries, which are due by May 15, will be compiled and compared at a technical session of the NEES annual meeting in Washington June 21-23.

The competition is open to the practicing structural engineering community, the academic and research community and the undergraduate engineering student community. For complete contest rules and structure and ground motion details, click here.