Last semester I had the pleasure of being on USC’s Seismic Design Team for our student chapter of EERI. I learned about the club from a senior who presented it to our class. The competition prompt was to create a high-rise structure out of wood that could withstand a simulated earthquake. In addition, we also had to design the architecture of the building and name it. At first, I didn’t really know how I could contribute to the team as a sophomore, but I thought it would be a great learning experience so I tried to absorb as much information as I could from the seniors.
We spent weeks building our structure out of balsa wood, which we precisely cut out using the laser cutters USC provides, and industrial adhesive. We used a diagrid system between the walls, which is a series of diagonal intersecting lines, because it’s the most structurally sound and provides a nice design as well. It was a long process, but I learned a lot and I thought the structure we ultimately created was incredible. We dubbed her “The Groove”.
The most exciting part was the competition itself, which was located in San Diego this year! Our team spent a whole week in Point Loma, and while our time was dominated by setting up and earthquake simulations, we still had plenty of time to sight-see and explore San Diego’s beautiful waterfront. There was nothing more nerve-racking than the shaking, wondering if that structure you spent so much time perfecting was going to break in half and disqualify you. But we were ecstatic when “The Groove” really pulled through with not a single break to its members!
Out of 51 collegiate teams we ended up placing 7th overall! I was really proud of all the work we accomplished as a team. And as this year’s current Structural Design Captain, I am excited to help carry the torch and hopefully do even better!