Earthquake Shake Table Wins $5.2M Grant
A full-scale six-story steel-frame building; a low-dam-age column for bridges; and innovative designs to iso-late buildings from earthquake forces. These are some of the projects that structural engineers at the Jacobs School and beyond will have the opportunity to test on an exceptional scale thanks to a $5.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
In the past 11 years, research at UC San Diego’s shake table, the largest outdoor shake table in the world, has led to important changes in design codes for commercial and residential structures and new insights into the seismic performance of geotechnical systems, such as foundations, tunnels and retaining walls. It also has helped validate the use of new technologies to make buildings more likely to withstand earthquakes.
The five-year grant, awarded after a highly competitive process by NSF’s Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Program, will provide funding for the facility’s operation and main-tenance. “The data and fundamental knowledge provided by the landmark tests performed at this facility support the development, cal-ibration and validation of the next generation of computer simulation models for civil infrastructure systems. They also allow us to continually improve design methodologies,” said Joel Conte, the grant’s principal
A soil box stands upon the shake table at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, awaiting testing.
investigator and a professor of structural engineering at the Jacobs School. “We are helping engineers come up with new concepts, new technologies and new seismic safety systems.”
For example, the six-story building will be the first of its kind to be tested for seismic loading and post-earthquake fire. Its frame will be made of cold-formed steel (CFS), a light-weight material made from recycled steel that is easy to manufacture, durable and non-combusti-ble. The project is sponsored by the steel and insurance industries, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the California Seismic Safety Commission.