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Volume 20, Number 2, Summer 2006

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Message from the Director

MCEER: Earthquake Engineering to Extreme Events
- Holistic Solutions to Disaster Resilience

Starting in July 2006, what for years has been known as the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research will be known simply as MCEER. So what’s new, you ask? A lot!

New MCEER logo

The new logo we unveil today is just one small part of this change, yet perhaps the most visible for now. The design emphasizes the strength of MCEER’s earthquake engineering past as the foundation for a future that is inspired to deliver solutions for the growing threats posed by extreme events. It symbolizes our expanded mission and vision, and the fact that MCEER has evolved to address some of the most challenging problems that face the nation in search for disaster resilience.

Although much of MCEER’s change will become more evident over the next few months, some of MCEER’s broadening scope may already be visible to some of you. Tragic events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Asian Tsunami, and Hurricanes Charlie and Katrina have summoned MCEER to serve by leveraging its earthquake engineering ingenuity to assist in resolving challenges posed by these different disasters. Also, because different disasters—like Katrina—bring different challenges, MCEER has demonstrated its capacity to add to its arsenal of expertise, recruiting participation of new disciplines to examine and confront resilience issues involving public health and the environment.

Thus, our solid roots continue to deepen and anchor our efforts to develop a broader and richer integrated framework that can tackle a large number of extreme events threatening critical infrastructure systems, and thus our quality of life.

Since its inception in 1986, MCEER has developed knowledge, tools, and technologies that have significantly advanced the state-of-the-art and state-of-practice in earthquake engineering. Teams of investigators dedicated to advancing the vision and multidisciplinary approach championed by MCEER have spearheaded a number of unique and innovative solutions that have had a tangible impact on enhancing the seismic resilience of communities. While all involved in these efforts over the years take pride in this track record of accomplishments, they also recognize that much still needs to be done and remain committed to undertake the research, education, and outreach endeavors necessary to achieve seismic resilience. As such, MCEER is dedicated to continue being a leader of innovation in the field of earthquake engineering for decades to come.

In its essence, MCEER’s work has focused on preventing the failure of key critical facilities and lifelines, and ensuring prompt recovery. In this context, national needs require that solutions be integrated across various hazards. The process to enhance the resilience of our infrastructure against extreme events (natural disasters, technological disasters, and acts of terrorism) will not be simple nor will results come quickly. The substantial challenge to meet this pressing national need will require a research endeavor equal in substance to the need. The development of innovative and integrated solutions toward this goal will require collaborative involvement of experts with a wide range of knowledge from a variety of disciplines. However, achieving a synergy of solutions across the continuum of hazards is something that has just barely begun to be exploited or even investigated. At the onset of the journey towards this objective, MCEER brings its integrated multidisciplinary skills (from engineering to social science) and a dedication to bring research results into practice in a timely manner.

While we are familiar with acronyms for corporations that do not expand into a longer name, it remains unusual for an academically-based Center to follow such a path. However, as we continue to build on our foundation of multidisciplinary systems-oriented research pioneered in earthquake engineering to effectively address the broader vision of disaster resilient communities, it is essential for our “corporate” identity to reflect the values we embrace. By focusing on “MCEER,” we anchor an acronym already well established within some constituencies (particularly within the earthquake engineering community), and allow it to gain the same recognition by the broader community of stakeholders who share our determination to mitigate disasters from a broad spectrum of extreme events. The new logo also embodies this connection, from our roots and active presence in earthquake engineering, to our broader focus on extreme events. We look forward to your continued interest, endorsement, and partnership along this journey.