A team of four UWA Civil Engineering students flew to Taipei in Taiwan to compete in the Introducing and Demonstrating Earthquake Engineering Research in Schools (IDEERS) structural competition held on 14-15 September.
IDEERS is a creative science competition held at the Taiwan National Centre for Research on Earthquake Engineering (NCREE) and is used to promote earthquake engineering and seismic protection education. The program, jointly organised by NCREE, National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) and British Council (BC), is geared towards high school, undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Master of Professional Engineering (Civil) students Lucia Zang, Kar Wing Lee, Alex Verth, and Jeremy Lee, travelled to Taiwan to compete against teams from 50 universities from around the globe. The team of four was accompanied by UWA Research Associate of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (CEME), Dr. Yimiao Huang.
The group were selected based on their success at the preliminary competition held at the University of Western Australia. A total of six teams (24 students) were challenged to design a structure that would survive a minimum earthquake intensity of 250gal and hold a minimum weight of 25kg. A design which, if successful, would be put to the ultimate test at IDEERS 2018.
Teams were tasked to pitch the effectiveness of their design to a panel of three academics, Dr. Farhad Aslani, Dr. Feifei Tong and Dr. Yimiao Huang from CEME as well as prepare promotional material for their chosen design in the form of an educational poster.
Research Associate Dr. Yimiao Huang required the successful team design to be able to withstand not only gravitational forces but also horizontal seismic loading. “Students were required to use all the knowledge they learned to design the model including analysis of earthquake loading, preliminary structure design and numerical analysis.” he said.
Team Leader Lucia Zang spoke of her greater appreciation for earthquake engineering design and its difficulty stating, “I have learnt a lot leading up to and during the preparation for the competition…when designing the building we needed to consider so many different modes of failure”.
During the competition, the students were able to visually observe how their structure would behave during an earthquake, “students rarely have the chance to transfer their design into a real model” Dr Huang said.
The team were awarded an IDEERS Certificate of Quake-Resistant Structure for their design despite a torsion failure which impeded their score. “After the competition this year, we summarised the problem of our structure. Students learned about the importance of the ‘safety factor’ when they built the model based on numerical analysis” said Dr Huang.
Ms Zang stressed the importance of the competition experience to students stating “I would hope that UWA students continue to attend each year as it is a very relevant and beneficial project that definitely adds value to your civil engineering degree”.
“Overall I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to come on this trip…although we did not get the result we hoped, we all learnt a lot in the process and hope we can pass this onto future teams.” Ms Zang said.
Find out more about IDEERS 2018 here.
Caitlin White (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 2260