An update on the current and planned functionality of ‘Catastrophe’

Image credit ‘Jimmer Slimmer’

We are in various conversations (see here) with the users of Workshed about how the ‘Catastrophe’ platform can be used to teach specific structural engineering concepts.

Genarro and his team are in the process of rewriting the real-time solver that powers catastrophe. This will allow us to be much more flexible in the models that we can create. To aid conversations about how Catastrophe can be used in the future, this is a brief overview of the functionality that we will be working with.


Catastrophe is now configured as a game, first demonstrated at the Institution of Structural Engineers’ stand at the Big Bang exhibition. The game challenges students to remove a specified number of non-critical elements from recognisable structures in a given time without causing catastrophe. This game is likely to stay in some form in the Push-Me-Pull-Me area. The game includes a ‘play’ area. This where students and lecturers can build their own structures. We expect to leave a ‘build it yourself’ sand pit tool so that students can build their own structures. This also allows lecturers the opportunity to create their own teaching models.

Current functionality

The physics engine real-time solver now only includes structural line elements with axial stiffness. This allows users to create truss structures by drawing nodes and connecting them with elements. The models are constrained by allowing specific nodes to become fixed nodes.

Planned functionality

The headlines are:

  • Axial, shear and flexural stiffness for structural elements
  • Cables as well as bar elements
  • The ability to change degree of freedom of an element
  • Improved graphics

Other developments are in the offing – more on these soon. We expect to get a trial version online by the start of October.