As MCEER enters its 18th year as a national earthquake engineering center, it finds itself at a strategic juncture with a promising future. Strong from the leadership of its past directors, and in particular of George C. Lee, MCEER has pioneered multidisciplinary earthquake engineering research and a culture of coordinated large-scale integrated research projects. These, in turn, have led to many advances in knowledge and accomplishments that have had a tangible impact on practice. This legacy enables MCEER to tackle the new challenges ahead, with a positive outlook toward the future.
One important reason for this optimism is the re-authorization of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), established in 1977 and funded at $100 million per year since, and which has played a major role in reducing seismic hazards throughout the United States. The establishment of a National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER) from 1986-97, and of three earthquake engineering research centers since (including NCEER becoming the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research) would likely not have been possible in absence of this legislation. Those who have witnessed and actively contributed to the enormous advances in earthquake engineering over the past decades can only welcome with enthusiasm the news that re-authorization of NEHRP is being considered at a higher funding level, the first such increase since its enactment.
Given the track record of accomplishments by the earthquake engineering community, we are confident that the NEHRP re-authorization will be successful, and will provide, among many things, the major infusion of funds needed to fully utilize the capabilities of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). Yet, amidst this good news, many concerns have been raised by members of the earthquake engineering community on the future of earthquake engineering research centers, particularly considering the 10-year limit on NSF’s funding of centers administered by its Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) division, and the NEES as a possible overwhelming presence in the earthquake engineering field.
While fully aware of these concerns, MCEER remains committed and determined to continue its work for decades to come. On one hand, the Center fully embraces the NEES endeavor. Currently, all institutions with large-scale experimental testing capabilities and affiliated with MCEER are hosting NEES equipment sites (see http://mceer. buffalo.edu/research/nees/default.asp). Thus, MCEER foresees becoming a major user of the NEES facilities as well as a facilitator of multi-institution research projects using these facilities. However, NEES is just one component of MCEER’s future. We plan to remain active in our other areas of research, including the highway project, and to expand into new endeavors for which our unique multidisciplinary systems-approach is well-suited.
A substantial amount of work will be required to achieve growth beyond the NSF-ERC Year 10 funding, but MCEER is well positioned to succeed in this key transition. MCEER’s management is being restructured to tackle the new challenges while ensuring continuity in its ongoing activities and a seamless transition. As part of this effort, Andre Filiatrault has been named Deputy Director, and several new positions have been created and staffed as follows: Special Task Director, George Lee; Strategic Operations Director, Thomas Anderson; and Diversity Program Director, Makola Abdullah.
MCEER’s extensive network of industry partners and collaborators is
also a powerful basis on which to build future successes. Our track record
in being able to spearhead and/or embrace innovative ideas and nurture them
from initial fundamental research to implementation through the efforts of
high caliber affiliated researchers and partners, is another valuable asset
that strengthens MCEER’s positive outlook on the future.
In the above perspective, through teamwork efforts of its researchers, partners and management, MCEER intends to continue serving the NEHRP mission for many years to come.
—Michel Bruneau, Director
MCEER extends a very warm welcome to our new deputy director, Andre Filiatrault. A leading expert on shake-table testing of structural systems and nonstructural building components, Andre joined the MCEER team in September. He will be responsible for coordinating MCEER’s nationwide research program in advanced technology applications. He is also professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering at the University at Buffalo. Andre was formerly a professor of structural engineering at the University of California - San Diego (UCSD), president of the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE), and project manager for testing and analysis for the CUREE Caltech Wood Frame Project, a federally-funded effort to develop reliable and economical methods of improving wood frame building performance in earthquakes. Prior to joining UCSD, he was a professor of civil engineering at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. He continues to serve on the scientific board and faculty of the Rose European School for Advanced Studies in Reduction of Seismic Risk at the University of Pavia in Italy, and is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Andre moved to Buffalo with his wife, Louise, and two daughters, Lou-Anne and Sydney.
Former Director George C. Lee has been appointed as MCEER’s first Special Tasks Director. In this position, George will continue to lead the Federal Highway Administration-sponsored Highway Project, “Seismic Vulnerability of Highway Systems,” coordinate international activities, especially the US-PRC cooperative research project, and assist in the development and improvement of MCEER’s graduate-level research-education interface activities, including restructuring the implementation of the M.Eng degree in Earthquake Engineering. He will also continue to be a researcher in both NSF and FHWA funded projects.
George, who is also Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering at the University at Buffalo, will have an expanded role in the development of new initiatives for the Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Professor Makola Abdullah of the Department of Civil Engineering of Florida A&M University/Florida State has been named MCEER’s first Diversity Program Director. In this new and important role, Makola will oversee and continue the development of MCEER’s diversity efforts. This will involve developing programs that support the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) initiatives, by reaching out to underrepresented groups, introducing them to earthquake engineering and assisting them in earning degrees in engineering so that they can become future professionals in their communities.
Makola has a strong history with MCEER, having been funded for the last
three years to engage in research and education tasks working with K-12 students
and teachers, and also with university students in an Earthquake and Wind
He and his wife Ahkinyala have two children, Mikaili and Sefiyetu.
Dr. Thomas L. Anderson has been appointed MCEER’s Strategic Operations
Director. In this newly created position, Tom will assist MCEER in informing
and educating mission agencies and corporate groups about the capabilities
of MCEER and its Strategic Partners. He will participate in MCEER’s
strategic planning process in anticipation of graduation from the NSF ERC
program, and long-term growth opportunities.
Tom served on the MCEER (then NCEER) Oversight Committee from 1992 to 1997 and was Chair of the Center’s Implementation Advisory Committee in 1999. He most recently was a program officer with the National Science Foundation NEES Program. Previously, he spent 27 years with Fluor Daniel, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction companies, where he held a variety of executive positions. While on sabbatical leave from Fluor Daniel, he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at RAND’s Critical Technologies Institute in Washington, D.C., where he contributed to analytic support for science and technology policy formulation in the Executive Office of the President of the United States.
Tom will be based in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Sunny Ann, reside
in Arlington, Virginia, and have five children.