Skip to main content

Winter 2012-2013

Subscribe | Archive

Safer Bridges and Buildings

Frieder Seible is a key member of the teams that envisioned, designed and created a collection of large-scale and full-scale UCSD testing facilities that exist nowhere else in the world. These structural engineering labs give academic teams and their industry partners the opportunity to pursue research that leads to safer and smarter new designs and retrofits for bridges, buildings and other structures – advances that make California and the world safer in the face of earthquakes, blasts and other hazards.

Powell Labs

Powell LabsFull-scale seismic tests on a five story building (left) in the Charles Lee Powell Structural Research Laboratories in 1986 were some of the first performed in the facility. The tests performed by Seible, Gil Hegemier, Nigel Priestly and colleagues led to a better understanding of how concrete masonry buildings fail. The engineers later wrapped the first two floors with fiber reinforced composite materials and subjected the building to additional seismic forces. The results eventually led to the widespread use of fiber reinforced composite materials for seismic retrofits as well as for repair strategies for quakedamaged buildings. The Powell Labs also include the Caltrans Seismic Response Modification Device (SRMD) Test Facility. Seible led the design team for this unique facility. It tests the full-scale bearings, isolators and dampers used in the seismic retrofits of many long-span bridges, including the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

Englekirk Structural Engineering Center

Englekirk Structural Engineering CenterIn 2005 Jacobs School engineers shook a sevenstory building on the world's largest outdoor shake table. This was the first big shake table test at the UC San Diego Englekirk Structural Engineering Center – a one-of-a-kind facility that would have not been realized without Seible's vision and leadership. The Englekirk Center also includes the blast simulator facility that Seible developed with structural engineering professor Gil Hegemier, and the nation's largest facility for testing soil-structure reactions to earthquakes and other natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

Bridge Safety and Beyond

Frieder SeibleFrieder Seible served as founding director of the Powell Labs, which provide a worldwide resource for full-scale testing and analysis of bridges and many other structures. For example, Jacobs School engineers tested new structural systems for the seismic safety of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Seible (pictured left on this new East Span) is called upon to provide seismic design and retrofit expertise in many major bridge and transportation infrastructure projects worldwide.

Frieder Seible

  • Distinguished Professor of Structural Engineering at UCSD
  • Walter J. Zable Professor of Engineering
  • Eric and Johanna Reissner Professor of Applied Mechanics and Structural Engineering
  • Author of more than 600 publications and technical reports
  • Member of the National Academy of Engineering
  • Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
  • Recipient of many awards and honors including the 1996 CERF Charles Pankow Award for Innovation

Print Article