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Buffalo, Berkeley and Illinois Receive NSF Earthquake Engineering Center Grants


Introduction

Buffalo, N.Y., October 7, 1997--Researchers from the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) are among those from three engineering research centers that were awarded $10 million grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), to conduct and coordinate earthquake engineering research for the nation.

The five-year NSF grant, the third received by NCEER investigators in 11 years, will support a

Center for Advanced Technologies in Earthquake Loss Reduction,

to study the application of advanced and emerging technologies to minimize earthquake damage and losses nationwide. NCEER was originally established by NSF in 1986 following a national competition.

This latest award is part of a $30 million NSF commitment to expand earthquake research by funding three engineering research centers. The others, newly established, are the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center, headquartered at the University of California at Berkeley, and the Mid-America Earthquake Center, based at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

NSF Commitment

"These new centers are needed to extend our understanding of the impacts of seismic events on buildings, roads, bridges energy sources and other components of our built environment and societal institutions," said William A. Anderson, director of the NSF's Earthquake Mitigation Program. "The knowledge gained…and shared with engineers, architects and planners will help reduce hazards and save lives."

The awards call for NSF to invest $2 million a year for five years in each of the three centers. The centers are expected to match federal funds dollar-for-dollar with funds from non-federal sources, and develop significant cooperation with industry and government organizations that are key stakeholders in reducing earthquake hazards.

According to NSF, each center will form a consortium of public and private institutions committed to integrated research and education activities, and will use a team approach to draw on experts in a range of fields including engineering, geology, geophysics and the social sciences.

In learning of the awards, NCEER director Dr. George C. Lee said, "NSF is sending a strong signal that the concept of center-funded earthquake engineering research has proven effective in developing methods to mitigate damage wrought by earthquakes. We are very appreciative and proud to be a part of NSF's new program of earthquake engineering research centers."

Dr. Lee added that NCEER's emphasis on networking across institutions and disciplines has been integral to its success — and he gratefully acknowledged support from New York State and the institutional members of the Center's consortium.


Center for Advanced Technologies in Earthquake Loss Reduction

NCEER's advanced technology center seeks to explore and adapt new and emerging technologies to: develop better methods to quantify losses from future earthquakes; improve performance of critical buildings and lifelines; and increase the effectiveness of emergency response and crisis management.

Technologies to be examined include those in the categories of: high-performance computing environments, site remediation, structural control and simulation, high-performance materials, condition assessment, robotics, and decision support systems.


Research Agenda and Demonstration Projects

The Center's research plan will be implemented around three case studies or demonstration projects that will enable researchers to study the promise of advanced technologies and impediments to their use, in real-world situations.

The planned demonstration projects involve the water supply and electrical power systems of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and a New York City hospital complex — and depict western and eastern U.S. scenarios which offer different sets of engineering and socioeconomic circumstances that impact implementation of loss-reduction measures.

Research tasks are organized under three cross-disciplinary programs:


Consortium Partners

Institutions taking part in the research program include:

Dr. Lee serves as principal investigator (PI) on the advanced technology center project. Co-PIs are: Dr. Masanobu Shinozuka, University of Southern California; Dr. Tsu T. (Larry) Soong, University at Buffalo; Dr. Kathleen Tierney, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware; and Dr. Richard White, Cornell University.

Dr. Lee praised his co-PIs and other researchers for their contributions to the successful proposal. He also acknowledged Center researchers for their ability to work together on focused projects, joining those with expertise in earthquake engineering with those who study seismology and the social and economic impacts of earthquakes. "Their combined knowledge produces a research team that is well-prepared for the challenge of developing sound engineering and disaster-management solutions that are economically feasible and socially acceptable," he said.

He added that the Buffalo-based center looks to strengthen its network of institutions, cooperating with the centers at Berkeley and Illinois to establish a nationwide system of centers for earthquake engineering research. A council of center directors will work to assure coordination and continuity among them.


Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center

The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Center, led by Dr. Jack P. Moehle, of the University of California at Berkeley, will develop technologies to reduce urban earthquake losses. Its consortium comprises nine core universities: UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, and the University of Washington in Seattle. Affiliated institutions in seven western states will augment efforts.


Mid-America Earthquake Center

The Mid-America Earthquake Center, directed by Dr. Daniel P. Abrams, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will emphasize reducing potential earthquake losses in the central and eastern U.S. by concentrating on problems associated with low-frequency seismic events. Its consortium includes seven universities: University of Illinois, Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, University of Memphis, Washington University, St. Louis University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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