A team of UCLA students from the school’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapter took first place over 26 other schools in a national seismic safety competition.

The event is held annually by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI). It incorporates the practical application of seismic design principles through the construction of a balsa wood model, which is ultimately subjected to shake table testing for a performance-based evaluation of the design.

“Our main strength was that we relied on practicality,” said Jennifer Huynh, the seismic design team’s project manager and a third-year civil engineering major. “We created a design that we knew would perform well, and that optimized revenue, aesthetic appeal, and structural strength.”

This year’s competition, which took place this month in Memphis, Tenn., asked teams to build a five-foot tall model of a 29-story skyscraper. Completed models were tested for seismic strength by adding 30lbs of steel, then using a shake table to simulate shaking felt during an earthquake. The competition also scores teams  on their presentations, architectural designs, and analysis predictions. This is the first time a team from UCLA has won this national competition.

“The best part of the competition was the shake tests and seeing the actual performance of all the other schools’ designs,” Huynh said. “As for the preparations, we love the entirety of the project. It’s the reason why we pour in absurd amounts of time and effort doing what we do.”

UCLA ASCE seismic design team members who attended this year’s competition included: Jennifer Huynh, Thuy Nguyen, Ryan Vanderlip, Justin Maynard, Jeff Pang, Emily Yagi, You Wu, and Norman Chak.

To find out more about UCLA ASCE, visit the group’s Web site: http://www.ascebruins.org