The latest earthquake engineering test at the University of Nevada, Reno was a huge success for Professor Saiid Saiidi. After years of testing, Dr. Saiidi designed a bridge using new materials that was able to stand up to a strong simulated earthquake on the University’s shake tables.
The University owns four shake tables, which are able to recreate earthquakes. By building structures on top of those shake tables, researchers can learn more about how earthquakes damage buildings and bridges. They can also test new designs to find out how well they would perform during an earthquake.
For years, Dr. Saiidi has been testing different materials and bridge-building techniques to identify the strongest way to build a bridge. The successful bridge design uses elastic materials, known as shape memory alloys, that can bend and stretch during an earthquake. Dr. Saiidi is also studying a new way to build bridges that involves building small parts of the bridge at a construction site and then putting them together at the bridge location.
Dr. Saiidi’s work can help keep bridges standing after earthquakes, hurricanes and other storms, which means rescue workers and engineers can get to work helping people recover and rebuild. They can also make bridges faster and less expensive to build or repair.
The first real-life bridge using Dr. Saiidi’s techniques is being built in Seattle, Washington. It will be the first time shape memory alloys have been used in any bridge in the U.S.
The shake tables are part of the University’s new Earthquake Engineering Laboratory, which, combined with the Large Scale Structures Laboratory, make up the biggest, most versatile earthquake engineering facility in the U.S.