Aug 05, 2020
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Shake table studies of a hybrid base isolation system for wood structures in collaboration with Professor Goodarz Ahmadi from Clarkson University. (Courtesy Dr. Fariborz M. Tehrani)

Engineering students learn about structural safety through ‘shake table’

Students in the Lyles College of Engineering Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering are learning about structural building integrity with the help of a shake table. 

The shake table is used to conduct research on ways to improve building structures that may experience ground shaking to decrease potential damage in a disaster. 

The research focuses on the sustainable development with different types of infrastructures, such as buildings, bridges, roads and railroads in three different forms. 

“First, we focus on engineering design, making sure that what we propose is going to be applicable and engineers can use it and apply. [Second,] we focus on the structure mechanics by putting different components together so that they work more evidently with each other,” said Fariborz Tehrani, professor in the Lyles College of Engineering Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering. “[Finally,] we focus on materials that we try to be innovative and create new materials that will work great together. The goal is, we want infrastructure to be sustainable and resilient.”

The shake table could test three different types of conditions such as, sudden motions that could happen due to an explosion, stimulate shakes that happen because of a large heavy equipment, and seismics when the ground shakes. Although, the shake table is not unique to Fresno State it has been around for over a decade. 

Bookshelves are screwed against the wall, empty boxes placed on the upper shelf and all heavy objects are away from their desk. Tehrani has the office prepared for an unexpected moment of a disaster.

Tehrani suggests that students, faculty and staff should protect themselves during an earthquake. Individuals should take shelter in door frames, sturdy tables and stay away from glasses while watching their surroundings to see what could be potentially dangerous. 

Tehrani said that in an earthquake, two things should be a priority in the first few minutes after an earthquake has happened. Individuals should be able to take care of themselves and in the next hour, they should take care of people around them. 

A plan is the key, Tehrani added. 

Over the past several decades, the funds for infrastructures in the United States have declined consistently. Therefore, there is less money that could address the need for infrastructural improvements.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides report card grades on the physical condition and necessary investments for improvement on infrastructures. According to ASCE, in 2017, America’s infrastructure had a grade of a D+.   

This means that it does not adequately serve the United States right now. If a disaster were to occur, such as an earthquake, fire or flood, people will not be safe. 

“Past experiences around the world have shown, including the United States, how people could actually help each other and allow emergency responses to focus more on the needed area,” said Tehrani. 

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