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2004 Results
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    2004 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition

    Congratulations to UC Irvine, winners of the first annual PEER Undergraduate Seismic Competition

    The results of the competition can be found on the Seismic Competiton Results page. The SLC will be posting more information on the results page in the coming weeks. In the meantime, feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions.

    Many thanks to all of the participating teams, we had a great time. It is not too early to start thinking about next year, for more information please contact: seiscomp@peer.berkeley.edu

    The information below was supplemented by e-mails to the competing teams, but feel free to peruse this page to get a feeling for what the contest entailed. Next year's contest will be similar, incorporating many of the same rules and guidelines.

    For the current competition, please see the 2005 Seismic Competition Page.

    Objectives | Competition Details | Ground Motions | Registration

    This Seismic Design Competition for Undergraduates in Civil and Structural Engineering is being made possible through support from the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) and the volunteer efforts of the Student Leadership Council (SLC). PEER's mission is to develop and disseminate performance-based earthquake engineering. Nine universities on the west coast are associated with PEER, they include: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Irvine, UCSD, Caltech, Stanford, USC and University of Washington.

    Graduate student representation and input is provided to PEER via the Student Leadership Council. This group consists of over 20 students at the PhD or Masters level, a majority of which conduct PEER research and volunteer to serve on the SLC.

    SLC members have been working on the competition rules and debugging the technical issues for almost one year. To add to the challenge, the SLC has assembled this competition despite being hundreds of miles apart. Patxi Uriz (Past SLC President, UCB), Lijuan Cheng (Seismic Competition Chair, UCSD), Michael Gebman (Current SLC President), Dongdong Chang (UCD), Martin Walker (UCD) and Scott Brandenberg (UCD) are to be thanked for taking an ambitious idea and making it into a reality.

    Good luck to competing teams!


    The objectives of this first Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition sponsored by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center are:

    • To provide civil engineering undergraduate students an opportunity to do a hands on project and gain practical experience by designing and fabricating a cost effective frame structure, which will withstand severe earthquake simulation.
    • To build the awareness of the versatile activities at PEER among the civil engineering students and faculty at the core universities as well as the general public in order to encourage national-wide participation.
    • To increase the attentiveness of the value and benefit of the Student Leadership Council (SLC) representatives and officers among the core universities for the recruitment and development of SLC, which is a key liaison between PEER students and the PEER center.


    Competition Date/Location

    The competition will be held on Wednesday, May 12th, 2004 at PEER Headquarters, Richmond Field Station (RFS). Competition will be held in conjunction with the PEER Annual NSF Site Visit.

    PEER Center
    1301 S. 46th Street
    UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station
    Richmond, California, 94804
    Tel: 510-231-9554
    Attn: SLC

    Competition Rules

    Rules for the 2004 Seismic Design Competition: rules.pdf

    Promotional Flyer for the Competition: flyer.pdf

    To view PDF files you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for free from this link.

    Building Description

    Your team has been hired to design and construct a multi-story office building. To verify the design and construction concepts, a scaled model must be constructed from balsa wood and will be tested under severe earthquake simulation. Structures shall be constructed at a scale of 12 ft (floor height in actual building) = 2 in (floor height in model). A unidirectional earthquake shake table, with dimensions of 18 in by 18 in and a capacity of 50 lb, will be used for structure testing. Structures should withstand ground motion simulation from the 1940 El Centro, 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe earthquakes.

    Aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, (1/17/94) in Santa Monica, CA. First level was constructed of unreinforced masonry in the 1930's. A second level, of wood frame construction, was added in 1988. This residence was demolished one week after the earthquake, due to potential for collapse onto neighboring properties.

    Seismic performance of the designated structure will be evaluated by monitoring the acceleration and the relative displacement, at the roof level, of the structure during testing. A structure that has minimum acceleration and maximum displacement (at the roof level) will be assessed to have the best seismic performance.

    Structures will be tested with scaled earthquake ground motions, for the three seismic events previously mentioned. Ground motions will be available online from this website: Ground Motions.

    Model dimension details are as specified:
    Number of floors:15 levels, including lobby level
    Building Plan Dimensions:18 in x 18 inNote: no level in the model can exceed this building dimension
    Floor height:2 in for levels 2 through 15
    Lobby level height (1st level):4 in for first level
    Model height:32 in
    Diaphragms (floors):Actual floors need not be constructed, beam members are adequate

    Zoning Issues

    City redevelopment ordinances require your structure to meet the following requirements:

    Setback of 15% of the first floor area is required for levels 6 to 12.

    Setback of 25% of the first floor area is required for levels 13, 14 and 15.


    Each structure will be scored on the following: seismic performance, economics, construction cost, architecture, and workmanship (see rules).


    The ground motions can be downloaded as a .zip file:

    Motions.zip (330KB)

    The ground motions to be used for the competition will be scaled versions of the Kobe, El Centro, and Northridge earthquakes.

    Ground Motions Spectra

    The zip file includes the ground motions for the three records in ASCII format, and the response spectra for 5% damping. If you have problems downloading this data, please contact seiscomp@peer.berkeley.edu.



    One competing team from each PEER Core Institution or Affiliate Institution will be eligible for financial support from PEER. This support will help cover expenses associated with transportation and model construction (please note that teams will need to do some fundraising or obtain support from their university/department). Teams will need to save all receipts, as they will be required for reimbursement. Teams from universities not associated or affiliated with PEER are welcome to compete, however, PEER will not be able to provide financial support.

    PEER Core Institutions:
    University of California, Berkeley
    University of California, Davis
    University of California, Irvine
    University of California, Los Angeles
    University of California, San Diego
    California Institute of Technology
    Stanford University
    University of Southern California
    University of Washington
    PEER Affiliate Institutions:
    Oregon State University
    University of Hawaii
    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


    See Competition Rules for registration details. Teams need to be registered with the PEER SLC by March 1st, 2004. Registration can be submitted via email to seiscomp@peer.berkeley.edu.


    A list of competing teams will be posted here and updated as registrations are submitted.

    For more information on the seismic competition, please e-mail seiscomp@peer.berkeley.edu.

    Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley
    1301 South 46th Street, RFS 451
    Richmond, California, 94804-4698

    Telephone: (510) 231-9554
    Fax: (510) 231-9464

    Contact the PEER Center in Berkeley