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Annual REU Symposium Held in Colorado

  Attendees at the 2002 REU Symposium pose for a group picture.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) is a summer internship opportunity sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) each year. Students interested in expanding their knowledge of earthquake engineering and related fields are selected to participate at one of the centers: MCEER, Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) center, and Mid-America Earthquake (MAE) center. Each student is paired with a faculty member to work on a research project of interest. This year MCEER sponsored three students; Dan Fenz , University at Buffalo, Robert Payne, Cornell University and Nishadi Karunarathne, Catholic University of America.

Culminating the eight-week internship, students from across the nation converged in Keystone, Colorado for the 2002 student symposium. This year’s event was organized by the MAE Center. Seventeen students from the three earthquake centers assembled at the beautiful Keystone ski resort for two days of presentations, educational field trips and some adventure. Although the forum was entirely professional, the atmosphere remained relaxed and comfortable throughout the weekend. A variety of research projects relating to earthquakes were presented and discussed, which served to further exemplify the numerous options available to them in the earthquake engineering field.

An opening reception offered an icebreaker for the students and staff to get to know each other before the commencement of the symposium. In addition to the research presentations, the students got an opportunity to explore Golden, Colorado and gain some valuable information through several educational field trips. A most interesting tour was of the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), which is part of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The NEIC operates 24-hours-a-day to determine the location and magnitude of significant earthquakes in the U.S. and around the world rapidly and accurately as possible. The tour was led by Dr. Waverly Person, an expert in earthquakes and dubbed as being a human earthquake encyclopedia. The next tour was of the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado where

Dr. Panos Kiousis and Dr. Richard Christensen discussed the school and several earthquake related topics.

  MCEER REU students (from left): Robert Payne, Nishadi Karunarathne and Daniel Fenz pose with Andrea Dargush, MCEER, outside the symposium venue in Keystone, Colorado.

Concluding the presentations, Dr. Ed Harris of Texas A & M University gave a talk on engineering ethics. He discussed possible conflicts that could arise and advised the students to always seek a compromising middle ground solution. The students were then divided into groups and given several ethical issues to discuss and present. The symposium was concluded by a dinner banquet, followed by an enlightening guest speaker, Ross B. Corrotis. Dr. Corrotis is currently a professor, and former dean of engineering at the University of Colorado. He was also a former NSF graduate fellow while he was a student at MIT.

There were many social activities available in Keystone as well. Some outdoor activities included hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and a blue grass festival to name just a few. Therefore, within just two days the students were easily able to develop lasting friendships with each other. The symposium offered the participants a rare opportunity to meet with peers with a mutual interest, and to share their work with each other. Without a doubt, the 2002 student symposium in Keystone, Colorado was a remarkable success.

Proceedings of the event are being compiled by the MAE center. A limited number of proceedings from last year’s event are available. To order, contact at (716) 645-3395, or online.

--Submitted by Nishadi Karunarathne, Catholic University of America

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