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Effect of Earthquakes on Nonstructural Elements and Effects on Structural Bracing on the system

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This learning module was developed at the University of Minnesota. It contains background information from FEMA on how to identify vulnerable nonstructural elements that are likely to cause injury or loss of function if damaged. It focuses on the benefits of bracing in reducing distortion experienced by earthquakes. There are also 2 group or individual activites that can be conducted after the material is presented.


This module deals with the use of bracing to reduce distortion caused by earthquakes. It will identify areas in buildings that can benefit from bracing.

Earthquake Engineering Component

Engineers can design structures with braces to help withstand damage from earthquakes. These structural components can include columns, beams, braces, floor or roof sheathing, load-bearing walls and foundations.Students will learn that diagonal bracing will dramatically improve a building's performance under both static and dynamic loading. Nonstructural components include everything else in a building, such as ceiling, windows, office equipment, inventory, file cabinets, HVAC systems, electrical equipment, furnishings, lights, etc. These non structural components are typically not analyzed by engineers, but specified by architects, or interior designers.

Material List

Activities #1 and 2 require no additional material other than the provided worksheet; Activity #3 will need a doll house and a shake table to conduct the experiment.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Catherine Ellen French; NEES EOT (2012), "Effect of Earthquakes on Nonstructural Elements and Effects on Structural Bracing on the system,"

    BibTex | EndNote