Engineering Students Test Earthquake-proof Towers

Students tested out towers they built for their engineering class in a simulated earthquake for the quarterly engineering competition near the Andersen Fountain on Friday.

Groups of three to four students from Clark’s Dynamics, Statics and Strength of Materials classes were given specific guidelines for building their towers. The 23 teams were given a weight limit of three kilograms, or about 6 and a half pounds, and a budget of $50 that came from students’ pockets.

Students bolted down their tower to a handmade shake table, made out of a stand mixer connected to a moving platform, while another student attached an accelerometer to the top of the tower to measure how much it sways.

The towers ranged in materials from wood to soda cans and varied in height from about one to 20 feet.

It took student Tristan Martin two tries and 30 hours to build a working shake table.

“When you don’t have a machine shop and you’re just using your garage and drills … everything’s very imprecise,” Martin said. “So even though your measurements in your mind work and you got them on paper … you have to apply them in the real field.”

Martin said the type of work he did on the shake table is usually done in a machine shop and was difficult to replicate in a garage. Martin graduated from Running Start and is in his fifth year at Clark. He plans to transfer to Washington State University Vancouver in the Fall to study mechanical engineering.

Buzzing around, signaling for groups to test their towers, making sure data was accurately recorded and taking photos throughout, Engineering professor Carol Hsu kept the competition running smoothly.

For each quarterly engineering competition, students propose and vote for the competition theme, according to student and member of N.E.R.D. Girls Kayla Castleberry.

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