2013 PEER Summer Internship Program Details

During the summer of 2013, the PEER Internship Program provided unique opportunities for a record number of outstanding undergraduate students to participate in state-of-the-art research -- reaching for the first time a total of 20 interns!

The 2013 PEER interns with REU PI Stephen Mahin and REU Coordinator Heidi Tremayne.

The 2013 PEER interns with REU PI Stephen Mahin and REU Coordinator Heidi Tremayne.

Funding for the 2013 PEER Internship Program came from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and PEER.

The participating students were:

  • – Jorge Archbold Monterrosa, Universidad del Norte, Columbia
  • – Matt Brosman, University of Florida
  • – Shelly Dean, Humboldt State University
  • – Katherine Delaveaga, University of California, Berkeley
  • – Curtis Fong, Stanford University
  • – Donovan Holder, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • – Elizabeth Jachens, California State University, Chico
  • – Rakeeb Khan, California State University, Sacramento
  • – David Lam, University of California, Berkeley
  • – Daniela Martinez Lopez, Universidad del Norte, Columbia
  • – Mara Minner, University of California, Berkeley
  • – Geffen Oren, Stanford University
  • – Julia Pavicic, Gonzaga University
  • – Melissa Quinonez, University of California, Irvine
  • – Lorena Rodriguez, San Jose State University
  • – Sean Salazar, University of Arkansas
  • – Kelli Slaven, University of Washington
  • – Vivian Steyert, Harvey Mudd College
  • – Jenny Taing, University of California, Berkeley
  • – Salvador Tena, University of California, Davis

PEER extends its thanks to the Faculty, Post-doc, Graduate Student and Earthquake Professional Mentors:

  • – Laurence Kornfield, City of San Francisco
  • – Ben Fell, California State University, Sacramento
  • – Greg Deierlein, Stanford University
  • – Eduardo Miranda, Stanford University
  • – Jack Moehle, UC Berkeley
  • – Stephen Mahin, UC Berkeley
  • – Jay Lund, UC Davis
  • – Ross Boulanger, UC Davis
  • – Jason DeJong, UC Davis
  • – Marc Eberhard, University of Washington
  • – John Stanton, University of Washington
  • – Jeffrey Berman, University of Washington
  • – Dawn Lehman, University of Washington
  • – Charles Roeder, University of Washington
  • – Cristian Acevedo, UC Berkeley
  • – Carlos Arteta, UC Berkeley
  • – Ezra Jampole, UC Berkeley
  • – Jiun-Wei Lai, UC Berkeley
  • – Matt Schoettler, UC Berkeley
  • – Scott Swenson, UC Berkeley
  • – Nathan Burley, UC Davis
  • – Rui Hui, UC Davis
  • – Mason Ghafghazi, UC Davis
  • – Michael Gomez, UC Davis
  • – Christopher Krage, UC Davis
  • – Ana Maria Parra, UC Davis
  • – Adam Price, UC Davis
  • – Molly Johnson, University of Washington
  • – Bryan Kennedy, University of Washington
  • – Jeffrey Schaefer, University of Washington
  • – Andy Sen, University of Washington
  • – Dan Sloat, University of Washington
  • – Max Taylor Stephens, University of Washington


Recent earthquakes in the US and around the world have repeatedly shown that earthquake resilience is essential to building and sustaining urban communities. Earthquake resilience will play an increasingly important role in the professions associated with earthquake hazard mitigation. To educate the next-generation of these professionals, the 2013 PEER Summer Internship program focused on the theme of Engineering Earthquake Resilient Communities.

Interns were placed at the four partnering universities: University of California Davis, University of Washington, Stanford University, and University of California Berkeley. The students worked with faculty, post-doc, graduate student and professional mentors to complete projects related to the seismic resiliency of infrastructure, ports, levees, and urban buildings. During the program, students learned how to conduct independent research and how to participate effectively as a member of a research team.

During their summer research experience, interns worked 40 hours per week for 10 weeks from June 17, 2013 – August 23, 2013.


  • Location: University of Washington
  • Topic: Testing and Analysis for Accelerated Bridge Construction
  • Emphasis: Structural Engineering
  • Professors: Professors Dawn Lehman and Charles Roeder, Dept. of Civil Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 2

This research project is funded by the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) with the goal of developing a method for accelerated bridge construction, which is achieved by using concrete filled steel tubes (CFST) for bridge piers. Prior work has developed design methods for the CFST member and connections of the CFST pier to the foundation, but this phase of work is focused on development of economical and practical pier caps and pier cap connections that employ precast pier cap construction. As a result, the students will be working with a wide range of structural behaviors including steel and composite structures, reinforced concrete, and prestressed concrete elements. A major focus of the work is on constructability and construction methods in addition to structural design and behavior. The research is experimental and analytical, and it is expected that both students would be involved with at least one major experiment during the period of the internship. The large-scale tests will be completed in a previously constructed test rig that allows cyclic lateral load combined with axial loads associated with gravity. Both students will aid in the design, construction, instrumentation and testing of one or more test specimens. However, the two students will have somewhat different focus on the academic and reporting aspects of their work.

Student 1 would perform an evaluation of the behavior of the one of the large-scale systems evaluated in the experimental research. That student would report on the design, construction and initial test results of one of the test specimens. He or she will describe the behavior of the structure and discuss the impact on the CALTRANS bridges with plots, photographs, and initial analysis of the test data. He or she will consider how system performance may be improved or modified by changes in the design and construction. Analysis will be required, but the analysis will primarily be analysis of test results and observed behavior and correlation of this results with expected system behavior.

Student 2 will also participate in the experimental work, but his/her focus will be on the evaluation, design and constructability of various connection options. Student 2 will evaluate alternate connection designs and construction methods, evaluate the construction sequence, and consider design strategies for these alternate connections. As a result, this student will propose alternate pier cap and connection methods, and will focus on the goals of achieving economical accelerated bridge construction. Structural performance will obviously be a goal of the work as it was for Student 1, but it will be secondary to achieving economical, rapid erection and construction. The analysis associated with this student with design analysis, prediction of system performance, evaluation of construction sequence and methods.

  • Location: University of Washington
  • Topic: Bridge Pier Performance Analysis and Testing
  • Emphasis: Structural Engineering
  • Professors: Professors Marc Eberhard and John Stanton, Dept. of Civil Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 2

Detailed Description Coming Soon.

  • Location: University of California, Davis
  • Topic: Bio-Cementation of Sands for Liquefaction Prevention
  • Emphasis: Geotechnical Engineering
  • Professors: Professor Jason DeJong, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 1

A novel process in which bacteria are used to transform loose liquefiable sand into sandstone is being developed. Critical to field implementation of this technology is upscaling this technology from the bench scale to the field scale. This research project will be centered around five large m-scale models treated over the course of the summer. The objective is to optimize the treatment scheme to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental byproducts. The project will include SEM microscopy, biological and chemical treatment analysis, non-destructive geophysical monitoring, and laboratory and insitu tests to assess magnitude and spatial distribution of geotechnical properties. The student will work closely with the faculty advisor and a team of graduate students.

  • Location: University of California, Davis
  • Topic: Interpretation of cone penetration test data in intermediate soils
  • Emphasis: Geotechnical Engineering
  • Professors: Professor Ross Boulanger, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 1

Intermediate soils, such as clayey and silty sands, exist in widespread deposits beneath many of California’s dams and levees. Characterizing the liquefaction potential and other engineering properties of these materials is difficult over intermediate ranges of fines contents and fines plasticity because most engineering procedures have been developed for clean sands or sedimentary clays. The ability to relate cone penetration test data to engineering properties requires quantifying how the fines fraction affects both the engineering property and the cone penetration process. This project includes laboratory testing of intermediate soils to assess how their behavior varies as a function of fines fraction and fines characteristics, and to provide data for calibration of constitutive models being used in analyses of the cone penetration process. Visits to field locations to assist with cone penetration testing may also be necessary. This project is self-standing in that it will focus on a subset of experiments within a larger testing program, but will also link with and leverage data and knowledge generated by other research activities in the group.

  • Location: University of California, Davis
  • Topic: Risk evaluation for levees
  • Emphasis: Risk Analysis
  • Professors: Professor Jay Lund, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 2

This work will involve various issues that relate to levee failure or for larger levee risk analysis modeling. Some familiarity or interest in probability and geotechnical engineering is desirable.

  • Location: University of California, Berkeley and The City of San Francisco
  • Topic: Private School Safety & Opportunities for Earthquake Hazard Mitigation from SF Transfer Tax
  • Emphasis: Public Policy and Seismic Mitigation Planning
  • Professors: Laurence Kornfield, City of San Francisco
  • Number of Internship projects: 2

Student 1 will support the work of San Francisco's Private Schools Working Group by researching building records and databases, perhaps some site visits, to complete a database of private schools, and then working with structural and policy advisors to identify the potential scope of concern. One additional private school project could be to identify best practices of existing schools regarding earthquake preparation and nonstructural hazard mitigation.

Student 2 will identify opportunities and impediments to the future implementation of San Francisco's "Transfer Tax" program, which allows a small percentage of transfer tax upon sale of buildings to be used for earthquake hazard mitigation. No implementation program of this law has yet begun for earthquake matters.

  • Location: University of California, Berkeley
  • Topic: Seismic Performance Assessment of Existing Tall Buildings
  • Emphasis: Structural Engineering
  • Mentors: Professor Stephen Mahin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 1

In this project, the seismic performance of tall buildings constructed between the 1960’s and 1980’s is investigated. Seismic safety concerns exist because these buildings were generally designed for demands less than current design codes. However, a retrofit measure that addresses safety but neglects financial losses due to downtime for structural or nonstructural repairs does not fully mitigate the hazard faced by an owner. This investigation focuses on the economic advantage gained by retrofitting existing steel moment frame buildings in the 30 to 40 story range. Post-earthquake disruption and repairs may be preemptively reduced through structural upgrades to be analyzed by the REU intern. Evaluation of these upgrades will be conducted with state of the art analysis software to estimate structural and nonstructural damage and business interruption losses. These tools will develop programing and data processing skills through exposure to nonlinear dynamic time history analysis. The REU intern will participate in meetings with the project’s industry advisory panel, which includes prominent structural engineers from firms throughout California.

  • Location: University of California, Berkeley
  • Topic: Seismic Performance Assessment of Pre-1988 Steel Braced Frames
  • Emphasis: Structural Engineering
  • Mentors: Professor Stephen Mahin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Number of Internship projects: 1

The seismic safety of existing buildings is typically less than structures designed according to modern design codes. As such, many owners are electing to retrofit or otherwise upgrade their structures to not only be safer but to suffer fewer future earthquake losses associated with repair of damage and disruption. In this study, a prototype concentrically braced steel frame building designed according to pre-1988 building codes will be analyzed to assess the extent of damage expected for various intensities of earthquake shaking (hazard levels), and retrofit strategies will be developed and evaluated. The REU intern will participate in the development of retrofit and upgrade strategies, and in carrying out assessments of ability of the upgrades to mitigate damage and disruption. State of the art tools for analysis and loss estimation, including structural and nonstructural damage, and business interruption losses, will be utilized. The REU program participant will also have the opportunity to participate in the preparation and testing at the NEES@Berkeley laboratory. Nearly full-scale specimens representing as-built and retrofit braced frames will be tested. The REU participant will learn laboratory research techniques such as specimen design, test preparation, experimental data collection and analysis, and image post-processing. The participant will also participate in regular videoconferences with researchers at the University of Washington, and at the National Taiwan University who are collaborating on the research.



The 10-week summer program for the undergraduate interns begins with an Orientation Program at the University of California Berkeley. This orientation program includes the following items:

  • - Earthquake Resiliency Workshop: The definition and concept of earthquake resiliency is explored and discussed through activities and presentations by various mentors. The workshop highlights the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic.
  • - Communication skills: This module provides the students with tips on how to communicate their research project and results coherently. It includes instruction on oral and poster presentations, and writing a technical paper.
  • - Library research tools: This is a session in the National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering Library. The students learn about how to complete a thorough literature review and how to effectively find documents necessary to write a research results paper.
  • - Graduate school: The graduate student advisors in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley provide tips on how to successfully apply to and pay for graduate school. A graduate student round table discussion is arranged so the students can ask questions of current graduate students.
  • - Research Ethics: Tools and case studies are used to introduce and discuss ethical issues related to engineering practice and engineering research.

The interns at all 3 research sites participated in web-based weekly meetings. During the first weekly meetings the each student presented an overview of their research project using PowerPoint so that the entire cohort learns about the various intern research projects being completed. At the following meetings the interns were required to present updates on the status of their research project as well as discuss some research challenges. The final group meetings at the end of the summer gave the interns the opportunity to present a final, complete research presentation that includes their project overview, results, and how their project contributes to future community earthquake resiliency.

The final experience for the interns is their participation in the PEER Annual Meeting, which was aligned with the Northride 20 Symposium on January 16-17, 2014. The students participated by (1) attending the entire conference to learn more about the numerous multi-disciplinary research topics and seeing how a professional conference works, (2) presenting their research via a poster session at the conference, and (3) having their research papers published into a PEER report that is available at the conference and on the PEER website.

Find more information about the PEER Internship Program.

Funding for the 2013 PEER Internship Program is provided National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-1063138. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).