EngSci’s keep it rock steady

How do you keep tall buildings from collapsing in an earthquake? Just ask the U of T’s Seismic Design Team. They recently took 4th place in the Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, an international contest hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) in San Francisco, CA, under the leadership of co-captains Liam MacKichan (EngSci 1T7 + PEY) and Lucy Yan (Civ 1T6 + PEY). The result is all the more impressive since the group was only formed last May and went up against 33 teams from around the globe.

The competition challenged students to take on the tricky task of keeping tall buildings intact during earthquakes. Teams built scaled models of a high-rise structure out of balsa wood that were subjected to three ground motions of varying intensities. Teams were then ranked based on their seismic performance, architectural design, presentation quality, and rentable floor area quantity, all of which are captured in an overall annual building income score. The U of T team’s structure performed robustly throughout all three ground motions and resulted in a relatively low annual seismic cost.

“The academic rigor present in the first two years of Engineering Science gave us the confidence to delve into the underlying theory. We’re grateful for the opportunity to represent Engineering Science and the University of Toronto through the Seismic Design Team,” says team co-captain Liam MacKichan. Other EngSci’s on the team included construction leads Ryan Islip (1T7 + PEY), Cora Pulnicki (1T6 + PEY), Patrick Loa (1T6 + PEY), design lead David Gerhardt (1T6), and Helen Wang (1T5 + PEY).

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