Press Releases


World's largest outdoor earthquake simulator undergoes major upgrade

World's largest outdoor earthquake simulator undergoes major upgrade

June 9, 2021

A major upgrade to the world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator reached a milestone mid-April when the facility’s floor--all 300,000 lbs of it--was put back into place. When completed this fall, the simulator will have the ability to reproduce multi-dimensional earthquake motions with unprecedented accuracy to make structures and their residents safer during strong shakes.   Full Story


Major Upgrade Under Way at the World's Largest Outdoor Shake Table

Major Upgrade Under Way at the World's Largest Outdoor Shake Table

December 14, 2020

Earlier this year in San Diego, two giant cranes lifted the 330,000 lb. steel  floor, or platen, off the world’s largest outdoor shake table, revealing a complex network of pipes, wires and catwalks. This was the first step in a major $16.3 million upgrade to the seismic simulator funded by the National Science Foundation. Over the next 10 months, the facility will undergo major construction. When completed in October 2021, the shake table will be able to reproduce multi-dimensional earthquake motions with unprecedented accuracy.   Full Story


Joel Conte Named to the Eric and Johanna Reissner Chair for Structural Engineering

Joel Conte Named to the Eric and Johanna Reissner Chair for Structural Engineering

June 2, 2020

Structural engineering professor Joel Conte was named to the Eric and Johanna Reissner Chair in the Department of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego. Conte is the principal investigator for the operation and maintenance of the world’s largest outdoor shake table located at the UC San Diego Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California San Diego. The facility, which is also the second  largest shake table in the world overall,  is currently undergoing a major upgrade funded by the National Science Foundation. Once upgraded, the shake table will be able to reproduce all six components of ground motions experienced during earthquakes. Conte is the principal investigator on the $16.3 million upgrade grant.   Full Story


UC San Diego at Epicenter of Earthquake Research

UC San Diego at Epicenter of Earthquake Research

October 21, 2019

From the world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator to an international network of seismic stations, UC San Diego is a living laboratory for seismic safety. Researchers across campus are trying to improve the understanding and detection of earthquakes; provide immediate information about damages sustained after an event; and improve the safety of structures to better withstand major earthquakes.  Full Story


World's largest outdoor shake table receives $16.3M from NSF for upgrades

World's largest outdoor shake table receives $16.3M from NSF for upgrades

October 15, 2018

The world’s largest outdoor earthquake simulator, operated by structural engineers at the University of California San Diego, has received a $16.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to upgrade the facility to expand its testing capabilities. The funds will enable the simulator, also commonly known as a shake table, to more realistically recreate the motion of the ground during strong earthquakes.  Full Story


Earthquake Shake Tests at UC San Diego Toward 20-story Earthquake-safe Buildings Made from Wood

Earthquake Shake Tests at UC San Diego Toward 20-story Earthquake-safe Buildings Made from Wood

July 18, 2017

Engineering researchers are putting a two-story wooden structure through a series of powerful earthquake simulations at the University of California San Diego shake table this week. The goal is to gather the data required to design wood buildings as tall as 20 stories that do not suffer significant damage during large earthquakes. Full Story


Shake, Burn and Learn

Shake, Burn and Learn

December 20, 2016

On a recent afternoon, two Jacobs School engineers equipped with 3D glasses stood in front of a towering 12’ digital reproduction of a six-story building, projected onto a curved wall of screens. They had tested the building a few weeks before, putting its light-weight steel frame through a series of increasingly powerful earthquake and fire tests on the world’s largest outdoor shake table at UC San Diego. Now researchers were zooming in and out of the building’s digital twin to assess damage. Full Story


WPI to Conduct Fire Tests Aimed at Better Understanding Post-Earthquake Fires in Cold-Formed Steel Buildings

WPI to Conduct Fire Tests Aimed at Better Understanding Post-Earthquake Fires in Cold-Formed Steel Buildings

June 28, 2016

A team of researchers from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will be conducting burn tests aimed at better understanding the effects of post-earthquake fires on cold-formed steel-framed buildings and assessing various methods for preventing appliances and broken gas mains from igniting fires during quakes.  Full Story


Six-story steel frame building undergoes seismic and fire testing on world's largest outdoor shake table

Six-story steel frame building undergoes seismic and fire testing on world's largest outdoor shake table

June 13, 2016

A team of engineers is testing a six-story, lightweight steel-frame building on the world’s largest outdoor seismic shake table this month at the University of California San Diego. The goal is to better understand how cold-formed steel structures withstand earthquakes and the fires that may follow. This is the tallest cold-formed steel-frame structure to ever undergo tests on a shake table.  Full Story


World's largest outdoor shake table gets $5.2 million from National Science Foundation

World's largest outdoor shake table gets $5.2 million from National Science Foundation

September 24, 2015

The University of California at San Diego has received a $5.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to run the world’s largest outdoor shake table for the next five years. The table, which can carry structures weighing up to 2,000 tons, can replicate the ground motions of most of the world’s largest earthquakes. It has been used since 2004 as a resource for NSF-funded researchers from around the nation to test innovative technologies and designs for seismic safety of new buildings and retrofitting techniques for existing structures.  Full Story


Structural seismic design expert Nigel Priestley dies

Structural seismic design expert Nigel Priestley dies

January 6, 2015

Nigel Priestley, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Structural Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, passed away peacefully on Tuesday Dec. 23 in Christchurch, New Zealand, surrounded by his wife, Jan, and children, after a long battle with cancer. Full Story


UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Launches Center for Extreme Events Research

UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Launches Center for Extreme Events Research

December 19, 2014

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have launched a new center of excellence focused on developing better ways to protect buildings, bridges, dams and the rest of the built infrastructure, as well as the human body, from extreme events such as blasts from terrorist attacks, mining explosions, car crashes, sports collisions and natural disasters such as landslides and earthquakes.  Full Story


Learning by Shaking

Learning by Shaking

December 3, 2013

Over the past seven years, more than 7,000 sixth-graders from 26 schools in San Diego County built their own structures and got to test them on small shake tables at the Jacobs School of Engineering. It’s all part of the Earthquake Engineering with K’NEX Outreach Program run by the UC San Diego chapter of the Society of Civil and Structural Engineers. Full Story


UC San Diego Shake Table, Robot Win Best of What's New Awards from Popular Science

UC San Diego Shake Table, Robot Win Best of What's New Awards from Popular Science

November 13, 2013

The biggest outdoor shake table in the world and a robot designed to move along utility lines have received Best of What’s New awards from Popular Science, the world’s largest science and technology magazine. The two projects are featured in the magazine’s December issue, now on newsstands. Full Story


Rocketing Ahead

Rocketing Ahead

November 1, 2013

On a hot Saturday afternoon in the Mojave Desert, a team of UC San Diego engineering students huddled in a small underground bunker and watched quietly as the rocket engine they had designed over the past eight months flared to life on a test platform. As a jet of rocket fuel sprang out of the engine at supersonic speed, the students cheered loudly.The test by the UC San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) marked the first time that a university-led group had successfully designed, built and tested a 3-D-printed rocket engine, according to Space.com. Full Story


Team Investigates Earthquake Retrofits for 'Soft' First-floor Buildings on Jacobs School Shake Table

Team Investigates Earthquake Retrofits for 'Soft' First-floor Buildings on Jacobs School Shake Table

August 13, 2013

A team of researchers, led by Colorado State University engineering professor John van de Lindt, has spent the last month shaking a four-story building on the world’s largest outdoor shake table at the University of California, San Diego, to learn how to make structures with first-floor garages better withstand seismic shocks. Full Story


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

May 14, 2012

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. Full Story


This Hospital is Wired for Earthquake Safety

This Hospital is Wired for Earthquake Safety

April 5, 2012

At the UCSD-NEES site, earthquake and post-earthquake fire testing of a five-story building built at full-scale and completely furnished with nonstructural components and systems (NCSs) is underway. Unique to any building testing ever conducted, NCSs in the building include a functioning passenger elevator, partition walls, cladding systems, piping, HVAC, ceiling, sprinklers, building contents, as well as passive and active fire systems. Testing is planned for mid-April through May 2012. Full Story


UC San Diego Engineers Lead National Effort to Save Lives and Buildings During Earthquakes

UC San Diego Engineers Lead National Effort to Save Lives and Buildings During Earthquakes

January 7, 2011

Earthquake engineers from UC San Diego, University of Texas at Austin and Washington State University are joining efforts to make buildings such as hotels, schools, apartments and hospitals safer. To do this, the researchers will put a three-story masonry structure with shear walls systems through a series of rigorous earthquakes beginning Jan. 10. Full Story


UC San Diego Engineers Advance Seismic Safety and NextGen NanoSensors

UC San Diego Engineers Advance Seismic Safety and NextGen NanoSensors

July 16, 2010

In between spring and fall quarters, engineering professors at  UC San Diego are working to keep society safe, healthy and on the leading edge of smart technologies through a variety of research projects – from keeping buildings earthquake safe to enhancing heart surgery for children and developing the next generation of nano sensors.   Full Story


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