AUSTIN, Texas—Earthquake engineering specialist Dr. Sharon Wood of The University of Texas at Austin will be a co-principal investigator to develop the $80 million Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a national consortium funded by the National Science Foundation.
Wood, whose research focuses on the seismic response of reinforced concrete structures and on development of innovative damage-detection instrumentation, is a professor of civil engineering at the university. She is charged with engaging the nation’s academic and professional communities in the enterprise. Her team will educate potential NEES users across the country through a series of 20 regional workshops.
Through the NEES program, advanced laboratory facilities will be developed at 15-20 geographically wide-ranging universities — including the University of California at Berkeley, Oregon State University and Cornell University — and tied together through an Internet-based high performance network system under development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Equipment now being constructed or enhanced at the 10 participating institutions includes large-scale structural testing apparatus, tsunami wave basins, mobile geotechnical and structural experimental capabilities, and centrifuges designed to study soil behavior and geotechnical structures under simulated overburden pressures and earthquake shaking.
Other civil engineers from The University of Texas at Austin associated with NEES are Drs. Kenneth Stokoe and Ellen Rathje, who received a grant to develop ground-shaking equipment.
All NEES facilities will be operational by fall 2004, giving rise to a virtual laboratory, or “collaboratorium” equipped to serve the needs of the entire far-flung earthquake engineering research community until 2014.
“NEES is a unique opportunity for earthquake engineering because we’ve never had this much money coming in all at once,” said Wood. “It’s updating equipment around the country, and it’s also going to provide a mechanism for people to share data. Eventually, there will be archiving of experimental data and anyone from around the world will be able to come in and analyze it.”