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Sophomore year was when I was first joined USC’s student chapter of EERI, or the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. The club is centralized around a design competition called SDC, or Seismic Design Competition, where we are given a prompt for a high-rise structure, and must architecturally and structurally design the building with 3-D modeling. We then build a physical model out of wood that is put on a shake table to simulate an earthquake, and see which ones survive!

The competition was a blast that year but unfortunately got suspended my junior year due to COVID-19. Now during my senior year we are able to compete again, however with the group of seniors from two years ago gone, my friends and I needed to carry the torch. With myself as Vice President, and my friend, Abby Devane, as President, we were determined to pull the club out of the COVID slump that left it with minimal membership. We spent the early stages of this semester actively attending underclassmen Civil Engineering courses with the purpose of attaining young and eager members.

When it came the day for our first general body meeting, we were nervous of turnout. Neither of us had run a club before and didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised when 25-30 new faces spilled into the room. We were especially excited because besides wanted to compete in this competition, we also wanted to create a legacy for the club, so these younger members to gain experience and take our positions once we graduate.

Overall, the meeting was very successful and we were ready to teach these new members a lot about the competition. A fun activity we planned at the end of the meeting was our own little seismic design competition! We asked the room to split into smaller groups and handed out uncooked pasta and marshmallows for them to build their own little structures. We then taped the bases of these to a table and shook it violently to simulate an earthquake, and found out which one was the most resilient. Overall, no matter how hard we shook, 3 of the structures ended up surviving! Showing we already have a very talented group, and we are very excited to see what work they will produce as we inch towards the competition date!

Viterbi Voices