Summer 2020

APA Designers Circle News

Highlights from this Month's e-Newsletter


Timber-Strong Design Build Competition

Students build their structures at the Disneyland HotelAPA – The Engineered Wood Association, the American Wood Council (AWC) and Simpson Strong-Tie partnered with the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) to sponsor the Timber-Strong Design Build℠ (TSDB) Competition at the 2019 NCSEA Summit. Competing teams built a 2-story wood structure and were required to submit a report consisting of a preliminary structural engineering design, material cost estimate, structural calculations and estimated carbon footprint in addition to a presentation. The TSDB competition gives students an opportunity to experience the full spectrum of designing and building a real-world project in a team environment. Additionally, the students were encouraged to prefabricate the walls, floors, and roofs into building components to save time during the competition and mimic the technique of off-site panelization happening in the wood industry.

U-Haul trucks arrive with building materialsThe on-site building portion of the competition took place at the Disneyland® Hotel in Anaheim, California, on November 12, 2019. Six teams built two-story wood structures within a 90-minute time period. The addition of a second story to the competition created an added challenge for students to build, requiring understanding of a continuous load path.

Participant teams came from California State University, Sacramento; University of California, Los Angeles; California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; University of Kentucky; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and University of South Florida.

Students work on their buildVolunteers taped off the parking lot before the competition began to designate the areas where teams would build their structures. Student teams arrived with all of their building materials, pre-fabricated panels, tools and safety equipment. Teams were required to keep their builds within the 90-minute time frame and within the designated area while they completed their structure. Structural engineer judges observed and scored aspects of the build while additional volunteers monitored student safety as well as the use of tools and equipment. Judging was based on the creativity and efficiency of the design, speed and accuracy of construction, as well as a complete load path. A load test of the structure’s cantilever beam was performed to compare the measured deflection to the student team’s predicted design deflection. Lastly, the ability to communicate their project to the judges was scored, as each team gave a live presentation of their completed designs.

Following the competition, several of the judges took the opportunity to educate the teams on their performance. For example, Sandra Biddulph, S.E., Principal at DCI Engineers, discussed safety concerns during construction, and Tim Kaucher, P.E., Engineering Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie, pointed out the advantages of panelizing ahead of time. The winners of the competition: 1st Place: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; 2nd Place: University of California, Los Angeles; 3rd Place: University of Kentucky.



Structures take shape in the lotA couple of teams had little experience building with wood prior to the competition. The University of South Florida team actually set out on their own to learn about wood design. The University of Kentucky team, who earned third place, had a structural engineer on site that spoke highly of their learning during the contest leading up to the event and remained on site with their academic advisor to support them during the competition. And Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo’s ARCE team, disappointed with their performance at the 2019 Pacific Southwest Conference’s competition, took it to heart to dominate this event; these efforts were rewarded with the first-place prize.



After the competition’s end, teams were invited to donate their structure to the Childhood Cancer Foundation of Southern California (CCFSC). Three teams donated, and as a special highlight of the day, a young patient with CCFSC chose which playhouse would be reassembled in her backyard, courtesy of Simpson Strong-Tie employees.

The Spring 2020 Timber-Strong Design Build Competition, scheduled for April 4 at California State University, Fullerton as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Pacific Southwest Conference, did not occur as planned due to COVID-19. While the in-person builds and presentations were canceled, 14 of the 18 registered teams still submitted their project reports for evaluation. When judging of the reports was complete, the top three teams were California State University, Fullerton, 1st place; University of California, Los Angeles, 2nd place; and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 3rd place.

Getting Technical

On-Demand Webinar
From Outsider to Insider: An Engineer's Perspective of APA Services

From Outsider to InsiderPresented by Aleeta Dene, P.E., this webinar provides a window into the many services APA provides as well as some specific highlights from the perspective of a new Engineered Wood Specialist in her transition from consulting engineering to the association. The webinar includes discussion of the various tools available to designers as well as several design considerations for the office and in the field. Continuing education credits are not available. VIEW >

Inside the Circle

Aleeta Dene, P.E.Meet Aleeta Dene, P.E.

Aleeta is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California and resides in Los Angeles, California. She brings nine years of structural design experience to APA, having worked for Hohbach-Lewin, Thornton Tomasetti and ATI Architects & Engineers in Pasadena and San Francisco. Aleeta has a wealth of wood design experience, including single-family homes for Habitat for Humanity in Riverside County, a Puppy Birthing Center serving Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael and several schools in California. She is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering.

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