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Update on the MCEER Consortium NEES Experimental 

 Profs. Bruneau and Reinhorn discuss progress with engineers at the construction site of the National Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) Jumbo Shaking Table at Miki City, outside Kobe.

This is the first is a regular series of columns that will report on the progress of the MCEER- related George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) program equipment sites. These sites are engineering laboratories that will be fully functional by 2004, and operate for at least the next decade. For more information on the NEES program, see

University at Buffalo 

The NEES project team negotiated the scope of work and subcontract document to purchase a large earthquake engineering equipment package from MTS Systems Corporation of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The package includes two high-performance moveable shake tables, numerous static and dynamic actuators, a high-capacity hydraulic system, and extensive control systems. The subcontract is valued at $8.4M, and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The equipment is scheduled for installation in a newly constructed portion of Ketter Hall's Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) in late 2003. 

The conceptual design phase of the SEESL construction project, which includes a 10,000 square foot expansion, enlarged strong floor, reaction wall, and a trench for the moveable shake tables, has just been completed. The project, which is valued at $9M and is funded by the State of New York, will now move into the design development phase. It is expected that the project will be put out for bid in early 2002, and that construction will begin by mid-2002. Completion of the expansion is scheduled for late 2003. The improved SEESL facility is scheduled to be fully operational by late 2004. 

The University at Buffalo also took the lead in organizing a tour of Japanese earthquake engineering laboratories featuring shake tables and large scale testing facilities. Researchers visited the following laboratories: National Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) (Tsukuba), Mitsubishi, Kajima, Miki City, BRI, Takenaka, PWRI, Obayashi, Oiles, Taipei, Takenaka, Shimizu, Kyoto (Nadashima) and Kyoto-Underwater Table. For each facility visited, the team noted the specific facilities, how they are currently used, and how they could be applied to research in progress, and collected materials including bibliographies, data and other related information. The team included Andrei Reinhorn, Andrew Whittaker, Michel Bruneau, Sabanayagam Thevanayagam, and Mark Pitman, all from the University at Buffalo, Ian Buckle, University of Nevada, Reno, Don Clyde and Bozidar Stojadinovic, University of California, Berkeley, and Benson Shing, University of Colorado, Boulder. 

University of Nevada, Reno 

Schematic realization of the multiple shake table facility at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The NEES project at the Large-Scale Structures Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno has entered its construction phase as of early July 2001. The project involves a major upgrade of and expansion to the earthquake engineering simulation facilities. Funding is provided in part by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds will enable the upgrade of the two existing tables from uniaxial to biaxial motion, and the purchase, installation and commissioning of a third biaxial table. Each of these identical tables is manufactured by MTS and is 4.25 m square, have 445 kN payload capacity and 600 mm peak-to-peak stroke in the horizontal plane. Moreover, overall project design includes new hydraulic distribution lines along with upgraded hydraulic power supply. The tables are relocatable and each table can be operated independently of the other two tables, or in-phase with the other two tables, thus forming a single large table, or differentially with the other two tables for the simulation of spatial variation effects in earthquake ground motions. 

It is intended that this upgrade and expansion will be completed, and the facility online, by September 30, 2004. For more information see

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

The NEES team for this geotechnical centrifuge earthquake engineering project is currently focusing on the acquisition of two major pieces of equipment: a 2D electrohydraulic in-flight shaker (two prototype horizontal directions) and a four-degree-of-freedom in-flight robot. Requests for proposals for the design and construction of these two equipments were answered by several companies and reviewed by two panels of experts, with meetings taking place with the prospective vendors. Decisions and contracts are expected in the next few months. Manufacturing of these two equipments is scheduled to be finalized in 2003. 

Other activities currently progressing along the original schedule of this four-year project include: a new networked data acquisition with Internet telecapability; high speed cameras, image processing software and development of a new generation of advanced and improved sensors for better resolution of the centrifuge model response (development done in cooperation with the University of California, Davis); and other equipment aimed at increasing the capability of the centrifuge to test a greater number and wider variety of earthquake engineering models. The Internet telecapabity will be used in teleobservation/teleoperation exercises as part of a pilot project involving RPI faculty and students together with faculty and students at the University of California, San Diego. 

The improved centrifuge earthquake engineering facility is scheduled to be fully operational by late 2004. 

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