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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Jacobs School Celebrates Opening of the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center


Natalie and Robert Englekirk at Dedication of Englekirk Structural Engineering Center.    

April 12, 2005 -- Industry supporters, government representatives, family, friends, faculty and students gathered April 7 to celebrate the dedication of the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.  The center is named in honor of Robert and Natalie Englekirk, who recently provided a $1.5 million gift for research and fellowships and scholarships for structural engineering students at the UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.

The Englekirk Center is located on Pomerado Road and I-15, eight miles east of the university’s La Jolla campus.  The center includes three newly completed structural testing facilities including the world’s first outdoor shake table, the country’s largest soil-structure interaction facility, and the world’s first blast simulator for studying the effects of bomb blasts and testing technologies to harden structures against terrorist bomb attacks.   The Englekirk Center is an expansion of the Charles Lee Powell Structural Research Laboratories at UCSD, which are known world-wide for large-scale seismic safety tests of buildings and bridges. 

“What we are talking about here is protecting people and property against natural and manmade disasters, and focusing the resources brought together by a

 Dedication Videos

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox thanks supporters of the Englekirk Center. Length: 2:08
 Dean Frieder Seible describes the Center's structural engineering research facilities. Length: 7:30
Robert Englekirk tells his vision for earthquake engineering research. Length: 7:15
Powell Foundation President Joel Holliday remarks on the genesis of the UCSD Powell Laboratories. Length: 2:52
Ribbon Break
Shake Table Breaks the Ribbon. Length: 00:12
great research university to accomplish just that,” Chancellor Marye Anne Fox told the crowd of more than 300 guests during the dedication ceremony.  “We are so proud of our partners who have given so generously to make this facility a reality. Thank you for your support.”

Following the formal remarks, guests donned Englekirk Center hardhats to watch as UCSD used the shake table itself for the official ribbon breaking ceremony.    Robert and Natalie Englekirk’s grandchildren then led the countdown to a live demonstration of the blast simulator.  After the ceremony, guests viewed the damage to the reinforced concrete column test specimen, toured the hydraulic pump house, and ventured into the tunnel leading from the pump house to the underbelly of the shake table. 

“These new facilities seal UCSD’s position as the foremost structural testing center in the country,” said Frieder Seible, dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering dean and Reissner professor of sructural engineering.   “None of this could have been possible without the support of Bob and Natalie Englekirk.  Bob is a true collaborator, colleague and friend.  We respect his efforts to push the state of the art in earthquake engineering to the next level.”

“This center is a milestone in terms of structural engineering,” said Robert Englekirk.  “Our philosophy for seismic engineering has been developed largely from testing components of buildings on tinker toy-sized shake tables.  This new outdoor shake table is going to allow us to fine tune our design procedures and confirm that they are indeed valid.”

In addition to his and Natalie’s personal contribution, Robert Englekirk has engaged 45 companies and organizations among southern California’s building industry to participate on an advisory board and to contribute over $1 million to support research at the Englekirk Center. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of my industry colleagues than I am today,” said Englekirk.  They are forming a great working partnership with the structural engineering faculty at UCSD.”

One of the first industry-supported projects at the Englekirk Center will be on a full-scale seven-story concrete building which is being constructed on the outdoor shake table.  With the goal of increasing earthquake safety while at the same time reducing construction costs, UCSD structural engineering and industry partners will perform a series of dynamic earthquake tests on a seven-story building.  The tests will evaluate new reinforced concrete construction systems for medium-rise residential buildings such as condominiums, hotels and apartments.   The testing program is particularly targeted to housing needs in densely populated seismic regions in Los Angeles and southern California.

Construction of the seven-story building is being supported through cash, equipment, and labor donations from several southern California structural engineering and construction firms including Associated Ready Mix, Baumann Engineering, California Field Ironworkers, Cemex, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc., Englekirk & Sabol, Inc., Fontana, Grace, Hanson Aggregates, Highrise Concrete Systems, Inc., Morley Builders, Pacific Southwest Structures, Schuff Steel-Pacific Inc., Southern California Ready Mix Concrete Association, and Superior as well as from the Portland Cement Association.   

Robert Englekirk is the founder of the Englekirk Companies, which has been responsible for the structural design of more than $100 billion worth of construction projects including two Los Angeles landmarks: the billion-dollar Getty Center and the Hollywood and Highland entertainment and shopping complex with its centerpiece Kodak Theatre.  Englekirk was also the structural engineer for San Diego’s Emerald Plaza Center and Horton Plaza shopping complex.   He is an adjunct professor of structural engineering at UCSD and serves on the Jacobs School Dean’s Council of Advisors.   Since retiring from the day to day running of his companies in 2001, Englekirk has spent much of his time teaching and writing. He is the author of several seminal works in structural design and earthquake-resistant engineering.

Laboratories at the Englekirk Center include:

UCSD-NEES Outdoor Shake Table   At 25 feet by 40 feet, the world’s first outdoor shake table is also  the largest shake table in the United States — able to test structures weighing up to 2,200 tons and as tall as 100 feet. Because there is no roof over the shake table, workers can use heavy equipment to construct full-scale buildings and structures, allowing researchers to physically validate construction systems that have previously been analyzed only through computer models.   With its powerful hydraulic actuators, capable of shaking at speeds up to 6 feet per second, the shake table is able to create realistic simulations of the most devastating earthquakes ever recorded.  The shake table is part of the National Science Foundation’s George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). 

Soil Foundation-Structure Interaction Facility (SFSI)    With its two refillable soil pits, laminar soil sheer box, and two reaction walls, this will be the nation's largest facility for testing soil-structure reactions to earthquakes and other natural disasters.    Researchers will be able to tailor soil properties to simulate conditions in specific geographic regions, and to analyze soil-related phenomena caused by earthquakes such as liquefaction and lateral spreading.  The SFSI is located adjacent to the UCSD-NEES outdoor shake table, which will allow for full-scale testing of systems such as bridge abutments and pile foundations.  Funding Agency: California Department of Transportation.

Blast Simulator     Key to the nation's homeland security efforts, the UCSD blast simulator is the first facility to produce repeatable, controlled blast load simulations on full-scale columns, walls, and other structural components.   The UCSD blast simulator recreates the speed and force of explosive shock waves through servo-controlled hydraulic actuators that punch test specimens at 50 mph in 1-2 millisecond pulses.  The facility can simulate a wide range of blast scenarios from the equivalent of 50 pounds of TNT detonated within a few feet of a structure, to as much as 5,000 pounds of TNT detonated from 100 feet away.   Researchers will use the simulator to characterize blast effects on structural systems and to evaluate technologies for hardening buildings and bridges against terrorist bomb attacks.   Funding Agency: Technical Support Working Group.

Industry Advisory Board members for the Englekirk Center include:   Patron members Carpenters/Contractors Cooperation Committee and Englekirk Systems Development, Inc.; as well as American Segmental Bridge Institute; Anderson Drilling; Baumann Engineering, Brandow & Johnston Associates; Burkett and Wong Engineers; Charles Pankow Builders, Ltd.; Clark Pacific; Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc.; Dywidag Systems International, USA, Inc. (DSI); Englekirk and Sabol Consulting Structural Engineers, Inc.; EsGil Corporation; GEOCON; Gordon Forward; Highrise Concrete Systems, Inc.; HILTI; Hope Engineering, Inc.; John A. Martin and Associates; Josephson Werdowatz & Associates Incorporated; JVI, Inc.; KPFF Consulting Engineers; Matt Construction Corporation; Morley Builders; Nabih Youssef and Associates; Oak Creek Energy Systems; Occidental Petroleum Corporation; Pacific Southwest Structures; Parsons, PCL Construction Services, Inc.; Portland Cement Association; Precast/Prestressed Concrete Manufacturers Association of California (PCMAC); Rudolph and Sletten; Schuff Steel-Pacific, Inc.; Saiful/Bouquet Consulting Structural Engineers, Inc.; Structural Engineering Association of Southern California (SEAOSC); Simon Wong Engineering, Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc.; Smith-Emery Company; Stedman & Dyson Structural Engineers; The Eli & Edythe  L. Broad Foundation; Twining Laboratories; UC San Diego Design and Construction; Verco Manufacturing Co.; and the Structural Engineering Association of San Diego (SEAOSD). 

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