Lebanese engineer and researcher Moayad Nafeaa, a Ph.D. candidate at Scuola Superiore di Studi a Pavia in Italy, just won a competition where he had to predict the behavior of a real-scale structure under a simulated earthquake.
The ISAAC Blind Prediction Contest, by the Italian start-up ISAAC Antisismica, set up an actual 3-story structure on a table and shook it based on an earthquake that actually happened in the past.
The idea is to have contestants determine the results of the experimental campaign tested on a shake table like this:
“The contest is about developing and submitting a numerical model of a structural system whose structural detailing they give you beforehand and which has not been tested yet,” Nafeaa explained to The961.
The contestant must then run numerical simulations of earthquake records at certain intensity levels similar to the ones that will be used for the experimental campaign. “Then you record the data you obtain (in our case it was displacements at every floor of the structure).”
“Once all numerical models from participants are collected, the experimental testing starts. Now, based on the results of the shake table tests (the experimental), the model with the closest values win.”
Nafeaa, who participated in the contest mainly to validate the numerical models of structural elements he’s been developing in his Ph.D., was the winner of a 1,000-euro prize.
“Tell you the truth, there wasn’t anything challenging about it, all you need is good engineering sense of things (how elements behave under seismic loads), and tons of literature review,” he told us when we asked if the contest was difficult.
“Perhaps, the advantage I had was because of the topic of my Ph.D.,” he said, thinking about what he owed his success to. “I am modeling existing structures that usually behave in a similar manner to the structural assembly they tested experimentally. So I already had state-of-the-art numerical tools for the purpose of the Blind Prediction Contest as well.”