After doing some research online and consulting with professional contacts, Ingraffea contacted Quanser about their Shake Tables. It’s an earthquake simulator that literally shakes model structures.
“Quanser had already created it and the device was ideal.” We blush, but recognize there’s a reason for such high praise. Quanser built its Shake Table II in cooperation with UCIST, the University Consortium on Instructional Shake Tables. Since joining forces with Quanser, UCIST has grown from 23 member universities to over 100 worldwide, and UCIST now recommends the Shake Table II as a turnkey solution for teaching civil engineers.
The freshmen at Cornell were Ingraffea’s first reason for purchasing a Shake Table. “It has been very useful for five generations of freshmen.” And while the table simulates earthquakes, Ingraffea’s class simulates the real world. He uses the Shake Table when introducing structural dynamics, and he assigns students a hands-on project that requires teamwork. Teams must design and build models based on factors that include structural integrity theory and aesthetics but also costs and timelines.
“Then we have the big shake-off!” Teams proffer their completed models and predict how well they’ll perform on the Quanser Shake Table. “Then we shake them until the structure fails.” He adds optimistically, “If it fails.” The course, with its use of the Shake Table, is all very exciting for the freshmen, and miles away from those other hundreds of hours of abstract theory, mathematics and physics they face in their freshman year. As Ingraffea says, “it’s a simulated real-life experience for very young engineers.”