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Students take part in international earthquake challenge

Press release issued: 19 October 2005

A team of civil engineering students from the university travelled to Taiwan with a group of sixth-formers to compete in an international earthquake challenge.

A team of civil engineering students from the university travelled to Taiwan with a group of sixth-formers to compete in an international earthquake challenge.

The four second-year undergraduates competed alongside a team made up of pupils from Sir Thomas Rich's Grammar School in Gloucester and Stroud High School.

The two teams took part in a competition inspired by the IDEERS (Introducing and Demonstrating Earthquake Engineering Research in Schools) challenge organised by the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC) at Bristol University.

The International IDEERS Earthquake Engineering Challenge, took place at Taiwan's National Centre for Research on Earthquake Engineering (NCREE).

For the competition, the teams had to design an earthquake-resistant building, which they made using wood, string, paper and glue.

A total of 80 models were then tested on the large earthquake simulator in the NCREE laboratory in the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

The teams from Bristol and Gloucestershire joined more than 300 university and high school students from Taiwan, USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The competition - based on an idea developed by Dr Wendy Daniell and Dr Adam Crewe - was introduced to Taiwan through the British Council four years ago.

It has now become an annual event in Taiwan, expanding to include overseas students with teams of senior high school pupils and post-graduate students.

Dr Daniell, who organised the trip, said: "This project has been a huge success in Taiwan because it is such a highly seismic region.

"The organisers see it as a useful tool for educating young people and the general public about the risk to structures from earthquakes and the research that is being undertaken to find means of improving their earthquake resistance."

The two teams did not win but performed well, both receiving prizes for the most creative design in their category.

The undergraduate model came ninth out of 36 teams for its efficiency and was one of the last three standing for the final 'shake', which unfortunately proved too much for it.

The challenge is always held on the anniversary of the devastating 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake, which caused more than 2,400 deaths and left 100,000 homeless in Taiwan.

The Institution of Structural Engineers (IstructE) and Lloyd's Register sponsored the UK teams. Both teams spent their summer holidays building trial models and having them tested on the university's earthquake simulator in the BLADE laboratories.

Chris Vyse, a member of the University of Bristol team, said: "Both my understanding and enthusiasm for dynamic and structural engineering have increased dramatically. It is encouraging to put into practice what we have learned at university."

Blake Kendrick, a pupil at Sir Thomas Rich's Grammar School, said: "The experience has allowed me to put the theory I've learned in school into practice. This has greatly improved my physics and technological knowledge and has enticed me into a future in this interesting subject."

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