UBC Seismic triumphs at international design competition

UBC Seismic

The UBC Seismic Design Team has placed first at the 2021 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition.

The team’s innovative design for a cost-effective, earthquake-resistant structural addition to a Seattle hospital beat out 36 international competitors to take the number one spot overall. The team also won the event's Best Communications Skills Award, for “best [exemplifying] professional communications throughout all facets of the competition." 

"This is the best standing our team has achieved in our 12-year history, and the best performance at the event by a Canadian team ever,” said third-year civil engineering student and UBC Seismic Co-captain Olivia Chupik. "We couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement from our sponsors, industry mentors, UBC faculty advisor Dr. Carlos Molina Hutt, the UBC APSC community, EERI and fellow teams.”

UBC Seismic team
The UBC Seismic Design Team

Now in its 18th year, the EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition gives students an opportunity to complete real-world structural and earthquake engineering tasks in a team setting. It also allows them to connect with other students and professionals from around the globe, including countries such as Egypt, India, Ecuador, Mexico and China.

Before the pandemic, participating teams would gather at the competition site with scaled balsa wood building models they had designed and constructed over the previous year. These models would then be put to a rigorous test: placed on a shake table and subjected to up to the equivalent of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake. How well a building performs, says Chupik, would largely depend not only on the soundness of its design, but also on its "constructability and construction quality."

This year, however, the competition was held entirely online, requiring the teams to focus their efforts on non-construction-related aspects of their building projects. Participants were scored on the quality of their virtual poster and video and oral presentations, as well as written reports they submitted detailing the geotechnical, architectural and structural components of their projects.

UBC Seismic rooftop garden
A rooftop garden featured in the UBC team's building design

"The team's design, architecture and construction sub-teams were challenged with unique tasks different from previous years, such as producing drawings, preparing construction schedules and targeting LEED BD+C Healthcare certification [a rating for hospitals]," said Kylie Ip, UBC Seismic co-captain and a third-year civil engineering student.

“We are proud to have competed against such great work from all the participating universities,” added Ip. "As we learn from all we accomplished and overcame this year, we are also beginning to plan for our 2021-2022 season — and hopefully a return to an in-person event next year!”  

For more information about UBC Seismic Design, please visit their website or their LinkedInFacebook or Instagram pages. For more details about the team's win at the EERI competition, please see the announcement on the website of the UBC Department of Civil Engineering.

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