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News Release

Engineers Conduct Seismic Tests on a Five-story Building Equipped with a Wide Range of Nonstructural Components

What: Researchers at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego will put a five-story building, fully equipped with an intensive care unit, a surgery suite, a working elevator, piping and air conditioning and fire barriers through a motion from  the 7.9-magnitude Denali earthquake which occurred in Alaska. These tests are the second of two phases of seismic motion testing. The first phase involved isolating the building with large rubber dampers, while for tests tomorrow the building’s foundation will be anchored directly on the shake table. These tests will likely result in more severe damage to the structure and its contents.

When: Tuesday, May 15, 11 a.m.

Where: UC San Diego’s Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, 10201 Pomerado Rd., San Diego, Calif.

Who: Professors Tara Hutchinson, Jose Restrepo and Joel Conte from the Department of Structural Engineering at the Jacobs School

More info:  The tests performed at the Englekirk Center will be the first of their kind in the United States to focus on a broad range of systems and equipment that can malfunction during an earthquake and make it more difficult to evacuate buildings, which can lead to more injuries and deaths.

The overarching goal of the $5 million project, which is supported by a coalition of government agencies, foundations and industry partners, is to ascertain what needs to be done to make sure that high-value buildings, such as hospitals and data centers, remain operational after going through an earthquake. Researchers also will assess whether the building’s fire barriers have been affected by the shakes.

Video of the shake will be available after the test.

Video from inside of the building will likely not be available until late in the day or following day, after the professors have had a chance to review it.

Related links:

Test Program's Website

NEES Website

Project Industry Steering Committee

Slideshow of the project

Video: Protecting California's Hospitals

B-roll and Video Downloads

Prof. Tara Hutchinson talks about the tests during an NSF webcast

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering