École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, or EPFL, is known for their high level of education and research activities. But they are also aware of the importance of doing outreach activities. The Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics (EESD) group at EPFL investigates the seismic behavior of concrete and masonry structures. Their research involved developing a model that can predict the motions of these buildings and they have used the Quanser Shake Table II for several years.
In August 2014, Dr. Souad Sellami of SimplyScience organized a session to bring children to the EPFL research laboratory of Prof. Katrin Beyer and introduce them to earthquake engineering. Dr. Sellami taught the young students about how low and high earthquake frequencies affect short and tall buildings differently and how you can use the smartphone as a seismograph to record tremors.
The kids were then tasked to build Lego™ structures on the Shake Table II. The objective was to build the tallest building that can withstand earthquakes. Together with Angelica Rosso and Ovidiu Prodan of EPFL, the Shake Table II was used to run different earthquake simulations and see if the children’s structures could withstand it.
Figure 1 – Children building their LEGO structures on the Quanser Shake II at EPFL EESD research facility.
Prof. Sellami collaborated with EPFL because “we want to inform young people, interest them and make them want to study science or technology”. They also mentioned that using the Shake Table II in this outreach activity was “good for practical demonstrations”.
Quanser would like to thank EPFL and Simple Science for their contributions to motivating today’s youth. We are hoping this initiative motivates our youth to consider a career in Civil Engineering.