Cal Poly Architectural Engineering EERI Seismic Design Team Wins Second Place

 CSI Inc.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A team of Cal Poly architectural engineering (ARCE) students placed second in the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Seismic Design Competition (SDC) in early March in San Diego.

The Cal Poly team competed against 46 other university teams from throughout the U.S. and countries such as Canada, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Malaysia, Mexico, Turkey and Romania.

The Cal Poly team’s months-long preparation involved writing a design proposal; constructing a 5-foot-tall balsa-wood model to survive two shake-table ground motions; refining computer simulations to accurately predict the model’s performance; and developing communication materials, including a poster and oral presentation. Their efforts led to a second-place award for presentation and poster, third in proposal, and fifth for architecture.

Fourteen students were accompanied by ARCE Assistant Professor Anahid Behrouzi, Cal Poly’s EERI student chapter faculty advisor. Of this group, 12 undergraduates participated in the competition. Jenna Williams, graduate student and, past EERI seismic design competition team captain, served as this year’s chair. Students Alejandra Bravo and Nicholas Slavin presented research with Behrouzi during a talk titled “Leveraging ArcGIS Mapping: Investigation of Concrete Building Damage after 2017 Mexico Earthquake.”

“Our Top 10 performance in the competition sub-categories led to significant bonus points for our team,” Behrouzi said. “The students’ quality construction and the model’s outstanding seismic performance under shake-table testing helped the team rank second overall.”

In conjunction with the competition, team members Autumn Wagner and Ryan Millward coordinated office tours to three firms — longtime Cal Poly supporters were KNA Structural Engineers in Irvine and LPA and KPFF in San Diego — for discussions on their recent projects involving novel seismic design solutions.

Sponsors of the Cal Poly team included: John A. Martin & Associates, KNA Structural Engineers, Harris & Sloan, FTF Engineering, the Cal Poly Instructionally Related Activities program, and the ARCE Department. 

Technical advisors included Behrouzi and other ARCE faculty members Peter Laursen, Graham Archer, Kevin Dong, and John Lawson; Civil Engineering faculty and staff members Robert Moss, Charles Chadwell, and Xi Shen; and industry members David Cocke of Structural Focus and Alex Mueller of KPFF.

Cal Poly has participated in the EERI Seismic Design Competition since 2007 — taking first out of 19 teams in 2009 and placing second out of 28 teams in 2011. 

Cal Poly Seismic Design team constructing the balsa wood tower.
Cal Poly Seismic Design team constructing the balsa wood tower.

Cal Poly Seismic Design Team at the competition with balsawood tower and poster.
Cal Poly Seismic Design Team at the competition with balsawood tower and poster.

In the photo at top, the Cal Poly Seismic Design Team celebrates structure’s survival after both ground motions.

Image credit: CSI Inc.

About Cal Poly’s Architectural Engineering (ARCE) Program
For nearly 75 years, the Cal Poly ARCE program has embodied the university’s Learn by Doing credo. Focusing heavily on structural engineering with an emphasis in seismic design, the ARCE curriculum is a unique blend of theory and practice. The program is highly interdisciplinary, integrating architecture studios and construction management courses, thus providing students with a thorough understanding of the broader design/construction process. The acclaimed four-year Bachelor of Science degree is ABET accredited, and graduates typically become licensed as structural engineers. The ARCE program also offers a Master of Science in architectural engineering program. With its in-classroom innovation, connection to industry, and high job placement rate, graduates of the ARCE program are among the most sought after in the country and have gone on to shape our built environment. To learn more, visit

Contact: Ray Ladd
805-756-7432, 805-550-7669  

April 29, 2020

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