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'Independence Tower' Wins National First Prize

Student Engineers Present High-Rise Project at Boston Conference

April 11, 2014

Independence Tower," a high-rise office and retail project, designed by a team of civil engineering students, won first place in a national competition.

A team of student civil engineers captured first place at a national structural design competition for "Independence Tower," a high-rise office and retail project designed to withstand a major earthquake in downtown Los Angeles.

"This is a great achievement for us as students, and also for the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the University," said senior Jeffrey Addison of Anaheim. "The team takes pride in our college and we showed the country that students from CSUF can compete on any academic playing field."

Other members of the winning team are seniors Abraham Flores of Santa Ana and Cole Stafford of San Diego, both scheduled to graduate in May, and Tyler Kaplan of Kernville.

The students received $1,000 for their April 3 win over two other teams selected from across the country to present at the American Society of Civil Engineers Structural Engineering Institute's 2014 Structures Congress in Boston.

As part of their course work on the structural design of high-rise buildings, the team spent the fall semester creating their 780,000-square-foot project. Students were in charge of all aspects of design, including site assessment, architecture and structural design.

The end result was the conceptual design of a 36-story contemporary building in a region prone to major seismic activity, plus an 80,000-square-foot retail complex, inspired by Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

"I'm proud of the students, especially for all the hard work they put in completing the project and for the time they spent preparing their report and presentation for the competition," said faculty adviser David Naish, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. "It was nice to hear that the judges were particularly impressed with the level of depth to which undergraduate students went in their seismic design considerations.

"The design had to satisfy all city zoning and state building code requirements. Because the students acted as both architect and structural engineer, they had the chance to learn how to balance their creativity — what inventive new shape to create — with practicality, such as how to make the shape withstand any forces that are applied," Naish said.

The project introduced the students to a "comprehensive understanding of what engineering really is," explained Addison.

"We were surprised to see how quickly problems arose while designing Independence Tower. In order to meet the deadlines for the project, we had to quickly develop solutions to these problems, which required a complete understanding for engineering and physical science," said Addison.

The students also said that their faculty mentor challenged them to go beyond their perceived abilities. "Dr. Naish forced us to reach deep into our problem-solving abilities and come up with solutions to the many problems that arose during the research and design of the project," Addison added.

Media Contact: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

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