TheEconomist.com estimates that more than a million people have lost their lives due to earthquakes in the last two decades alone. Most of these deaths are caused due to collapsing buildings, which has spurred a fascination amongst civil engineers with earthquake-proofing buildings to ensure less of them fall down during an earthquake.

Engineering students that form part of the Seismic Design Team at the University of California, Los Angeles, are to present their new project focusing on earthquake-proofing buildings at the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in April. This would form part of a competition called the 2016 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competiton.

The team will construct a 5-foot tall wood model skyscraper that will have to be subjected to simulated ground motions. The judges of the competition will determine which models that are presented respond the best to simulated earthquake movements. 

The judges will also estimate how much money a country would spend buying earthquake-proof buildings and the wooden structure should be built in a way that it would attract a potential tenant who would be looking for earthquake-proof buildings. 

The teams could also give examples of how to earthquake-proof monuments and buildings that already exist. Kyle Williams, an architectural studies student assisting the civil engineering team said, “Since this year’s competition is in San Francisco, we want to include prominent structures like the Transamerica Pyramid and Golden Gate Bridge.”

The competition encourages civil engineering students to think about the real world they are theoretically designing buildings for. Jian Zhang, one of the civil engineers entering the competition with his team says that they are ultimately striving to "fit the reality" they are trying to "mimic". 

Each team gets seven minutes to position rods in their wooden skyscraper clone that will be subjected to earthquake-like conditions atop a shaking table and see if they are able to create a full proof, earthquake-proof building. 

For more information on how to get involved with the 2016 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, CLICK HERE

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