Monday, September 17, 2012

Honesty Wins

I just came back from the shaking table competition in Taipei (we competed with universities from Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong; students were from different countries as well) in which our group had to call the attention of the judges to tell them that our model had failed (because they didn't notice at all).

I've had a number of instances during college where I had to tell my professor "Sir, you misrecorded my score. I'm supposed to have a lower/failing grade." Well, it's the right thing to do. (Plus my conscience can never take it.) Yesterday was quite a similar instance... but it required A LOT MORE COURAGE.

Our goal in the competition is to create a model structure that can withstand an earthquake of 1000 centimeters per second square (a.k.a. gals) and fail at 1050 gals (whether by collapse, excessive displacement, etc.)

Team G-14. Our structure was the first to erect during the model-making day, Saturday, because we prepared almost everything beforehand. We just had to assemble using bolts and nuts.

Structure + poster

Unfortunately, at 950 gals, one of our steel ball bearings spilled out and the judges did not notice at all. The next "round" was about to start and we had to raise our hands and point to the judges the spilled steel ball bearing. Hence, our structure had a design strength of 900 gals. I was initially in denial because I did not exactly see the ball bearing spill out (it might have been from someone else's model structure). But one of my teammates said he did see it. It was sad and I can't even describe the feeling but we had to do the right thing otherwise our conscience will haunt us forever.

So they took out our structure from the shaking table and we took out all the decorations (we couldn't disassemble it totally because we didn't have tools at hand).

Then, this was flashed on the screen. The score computation is a bit complicated to explain so just take it as it is.

4TH PLACE. With that VERY TINY score difference: 0.0024. We were happy that we even reached fourth place (we didn't expect our score to be as much) but at the same time, we were sad, because of that score difference with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM2).

But after a few minutes, this was flashed on the screen.

Turns out, the previously flashed was not up-to-date. We all had to look at the screen a number of times before we could believe it. 3RD PLACE. 3RD PLACE. 3RD PLACE. Apparently, UTM2's base isolation system did not work like it's supposed to so their score decreased significantly.

My groupmates and I were jumping, squealing and screaming in happiness. We went back to our failed model structure and took photos happily.

Our bare structure

And here's the fruit of our hardwork, all the sleepless nights, holidays, weekends and late nights spent working in school and importantly, HONESTY.

Our base isolation system last Thursday.

Steel ball bearings housed in bottle caps. One (or two) of the bottle caps were sheared off so the ball bearings spilled out

Notice the cup of water? If after 400 gals, the water is still above the line, we get bonus points. And we did, thanks to our floor isolation system! I think this made us win.

All smiles. It's honestly difficult to win this competition because most of the other schools have great facilities (e.g. shaking tables, waterjet cutters for precision cutting, etc.). :)

However, fate decided to play a trick on me. I lost my two-week old phone on our way to the airport. It's just a low-end Android phone that came free with my postpaid line but it's still such a waste. I'm still disappointed with what happened but I don't feel THAT bad. I'm just happy that it wasn't my passport.

Aside from winning third place, I also learned a lot from the presentations of the postgraduate teams. Team G-18, the other team from UP, also placed 4th and won special awards! Congratulations. UP FIGHT!!!

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