INSIDE Chico State
0 December 13, 2001
Volume 32 Number 8
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico




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Up Front

Engineering Students Shine in Structural Design

Civil engineering students continued their tradition of exemplary performance in the Structural Engineers Association of Central California (SEAOCC) Student Design Competition. Four universities, CSU, Chico; CSU, Sacramento; UC Davis; and University of the Pacific, were represented in the 10th annual contest, Horizontal Span Structure—Design and Test.

The event consisted of three phases conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 13: a design proposal; field assembly and ultimate load test at CSU, Chico; and a final multimedia presentation at the SEAOCC Annual Student Night dinner meeting in Sacramento.

The Chico entry performed with near perfection. The Chico team assembled their structure in only 88 seconds and produced one of the lightest entries, at 38 pounds. The Chico structure also supported one of the highest loads, failing at an ultimate load of 3,074 pounds, compared to a predicted failure of 2,900 pounds, an error of only 6 percent. High strength and low weight contributed to a phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio, nearly 81-to-1. The structure failed as it was intended to, with gradual and progressive structural collapse, little accompanying loss in load carrying capacity, and high-energy dissipation—a classic example of a “desirable” failure mode.

Only one difficulty was encountered. The Chico structure was scored by the judging panel as a second-place entry largely because the observed failure load exceeded the specified maximum of 3,000 pounds. All of the other participants provided structures that collapsed in a catastrophic and brittle fashion through the incorporation of an obvious structural fuse—a shear pin in every case. The Chico team had hoped that the judges would give more credit to the more complex, yet desirable, behavior of the Chico structure.

The design team consisted of students Beverly Kildare, Glenn Hammond, Alex Peterson, and Josef Doornink. “The most important aspects of this project were the knowledge gained, friendship among team members, and the real-world use of the educational tools,” said team captain Kildare. The faculty advisers for the SEAOCC student chapter are Professors Joel Arthur and Russell Mills. Jim Luallen and Mike Renwick, shop technicians, provided valuable help in the fabrication of the structure.

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