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MCEER Annual Meeting Convenes Stakeholders, Partners, Students and Researchers

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The OSHPD-sponsored reception provided annual meeting participants with opportunities for casual dialogue at the California State History Museum.

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MCEER investigators Bill Petak (L) and T.C. Cheng (R), both of the University of Southern California, join in conversation amidst a backdrop of exhibits at the California State History Museum.

Under the theme of “Involving Stakeholders … Igniting Innovation … Securing Resilience,” MCEER’s 2005 Annual Meeting reached out from California’s state capital of Sacramento, and engaged stakeholders from up and down the West Coast. The purpose was to begin a process to ignite innovation and engineer solutions that will help communities become more resilient to the threat from earthquakes and other disasters nationwide. The meeting was held in the Sacramento area at the invitation of the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), a vital partner in MCEER’s hospital research thrust (see related story).

In all, more than 100 participants, including business, industry and government stakeholders, as well as MCEER Industry Advisory Board members, students and investigators, took part in the event. The large “practitioner” turnout made for invaluable contributions of insight and perspective to the Center’s research, education and outreach programs.

The meeting opened with an Icebreaker reception on the evening of February 24. Hosted by OSHPD, the event was held at California’s beautiful State History Museum, which was opened exclusively to MCEER annual meeting participants. More than 60 attended, partaking in fine food, good conversation, ample networking opportunities, and a host of exhibits and interactive displays marking California’s past.

Day 1: Second Annual Practitioners Day Forum

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IAB Member Anurag Jain (L) of Weidlinger Associates shares insights on hospital retrofit challenges with MCEER Deputy Director Andre Filiatrault (R) following the Practitioner’s Day Forum.

February 25 marked the second annual Practitioners Day Forum, involving more than 40 practitioners and consultants from structural engineering firms; electrical and water utilities; restraint & control manufacturers and service providers; manufacturers of building equipment and nonstructural components; satellite service providers; emergency management; insurance; and government.

The day opened with an informational plenary session in which MCEER Director Michel Bruneau, and thrust area leaders Masanobu Shinozuka, Tom O’Rourke, Andre Filiatrault and Kathleen Tierney made brief presentations on the Center’s three research thrust areas:

Following these presentations, Richard Eisner, of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, spoke of the changing landscape and challenges facing emergency managers in these post 9/11 times.

After lunch, practitioners and MCEER Industry Advisory Board (IAB) members joined investigators and students in breakout sessions specific to each of MCEER’s research thrust areas.

Sessions provided members of the various practicing communities with a platform to voice their perspectives on real-world challenges to improving seismic resilience. Each session included a number of practitioner presentations followed by discussions. Breakouts were led by MCEER investigators Stephanie Chang, University of British Columbia, Manos Maragakis, University of Nevada, Reno, and Ron Eguchi, ImageCat, Inc.
three women talking in front of posters

Sofia Tangalos (L) talks with graduate students Anita Jacobson (C) of Cornell University and Terri Norton (R) of Florida A&M during the SLC poster presentation.

A plenary session featuring presentations from Center IAB members followed, adding further perspective. In all, practitioners and IAB members gave more than 24 presentations throughout the day.

An evening reception featured student posters as well as exhibits by Center industry partners. Seventeen members of MCEER’s Student Leadership Council engaged industry partners and other practitioners as they presented posters on their MCEER-funded research. Student posters can be viewed online at http://mceer.buffalo.edu/meetings/2005Student/default.asp.
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Ron Eguchi (L), ImageCat, Marshall Lew (C), Mactec Engineering, and Christopher Arnold (R), Building Systems Development, at the annual meeting banquet.

The Annual Meeting Banquet featured a presentation by MCEER investigator Ron Eguchi of ImageCat, Inc. Ron spoke on "MCEER’s Remote Sensing Research following the December 26, 2004 Asian Earthquake and Tsunami." Originally developed for earthquake response, MCEER’s remote-sensing capabilities hold significant promise for improving pre-event loss estimation and post-event emergency response and recovery from a variety of disasters, including tsunamis. Eguchi illustrated ImageCat’s deployment of the VIEWS (Visualizing the Impacts of Earthquakes With Satellites) system to record, document and analyze field data from the disaster which claimed more than 250,000 lives in 11 countries. The system was also deployed last September on South Florida’s west coast, following Hurricane Charley.

Day 2: MCEER Partners, Researchers and Students Engage in Day of Planning

On February 26, MCEER partners, students and investigators joined together for the annual meeting’s Strategic Research Planning Day.

MCEER’s Industry Advisory Board opened the day early with a breakfast meeting to review Center progress and discuss their recommendations for the coming year. The meeting was chaired by Ellis Stanley, Sr., Vice Chair of MCEER’s IAB and Director of the City of Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Department. Thirteen IAB members participated in the meeting. They began with a SWOT analysis on MCEER activities, to convey their thoughts on Center Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to Center management. Discussions also focused on MCEER’s nonstructural components and electrical utilities research, professional and continuing education, ways to increase interaction between IAB member firms and MCEER’s Student Leadership Council, and strategies for continued IAB growth and development.

The morning session opened with Andrei Reinhorn providing an overview of MCEER’s Networking Program. The networking program is an advanced framework for sharing experimental and computational resources and data through electronic and computerized networks using the latest information technology tools. It links MCEER partners, investigators, students and other users to Center resources – experimental facilities, computational platforms, research projects and sub tasks, seminar webcasts, etc. – via the web. It may be accessed via mceer.buffalo.edu/research.

A review of student leadership council activities by new SLC chair, Michael Pollino, University at Buffalo, was next. The MCEER SLC is a formal organization of students who are involved in performing MCEER research under the supervision of faculty advisors. Pollino reported on the progress of SLC activities, including:

The Bulletin is a free publication offering articles on Center research, cooperative ventures, reports from conferences, educational activities, upcoming events, and reviews of new MCEER publications Spring 2005

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