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NEEScomm Update: May 2010

Posted in Announcements

Julio Ramirez, Director of NEES Operations, provides the NEES community with an informal update of NEEScomm activities.


NEES Update

May 2010

After successfully completing the management transition, NEEScomm looks forward to this opportunity to share with you an informal activities update as we pass the mid-year point in operations. We invite you to review the Community Section with several important developments, particularly as they impact you, and the Operations Section containing items related to NEES Operations. We look forward to your input and encourage you to visit the organization web site,, for more frequent updates and important announcements.





On April 6, NEEScomm team members Ellen Rathje (University of Texas), Sean Brophy (Purdue University) and Thalia Anagnos (San Jose State University)—conducted a webinar, Introducing NEEShub. NEEShub will be released July 31, 2010 at and will provide researchers and educators with access to current NEES tools, as well as new features designed to support the needs of the community. Current functionality will be enhanced to offer researchers streamlined access to existing resources. New developments are intended to increase the usability of NEES data, simulation tools, and remote collaboration. NEES Academy will offer a virtual learning environment for students and teachers interested in increasing their understanding of earthquake engineering. Introducing NEEShub has been archived on for viewing at your discretion (taped webinar, inDEED video, and PowerPoint Presentation). Users may comment on the plans or ask questions via email of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Questions and responses will be posted at


This working group of the NEEScomm Project Advisory Committee has been very active during this startup phase and has been especially helpful in shaping the NEEShub for the user community. NEEShub is intended to be a gateway to project data, collaborative tools and educational resources for the earthquake engineering community. Thus, community input is essential to ensure that the NEEShub is designed appropriately to meet the needs of the diverse set of users and to improve the current workflow for researchers.

The DWG has met five times and has provided valuable input on enhancing current functionality to increase the usability of NEES data, simulation tools and collaborative capabilities. Specifically, the DWG has provided: a working definition of data curation suitable for the earthquake engineering community; valuable input toward the prioritization of user requirements, especially those related to data; a detailed description of the data workflow that is providing guidance on foundational design issues for the NEEShub and the data repository; and, suggestions for a prototype of the inDEED tool for data viewing from within the NEEShub.

Another important consideration in designing the NEEShub to be effective for the users is having an understanding of the workflow(s) for various researchers as well as the integration of the tools within the NEEShub. Use Cases are one important source of this input and provide an end-to-end picture of the expected workflow for a research team. The DWG has considered a wide array of NSF projects that will be conducting NEES experiments this summer, and has identified three representative Use Cases spanning different aspects of earthquake engineering. These three include:

  • UC1. Understanding and Improving the Seismic Behavior of Pile Foundations in Soft Clays (PI: Muraleetharan, Site: University of California, Los Angeles): Experiments are planned this summer with field-testing of piles and a distributed research team.
  • UC2. Tsunami Generation by Landslides: Integrating Laboratory Scale Experiments, Numerical Models and Natural Scale Applications (PI: Fritz, Site: Oregon State University): A series of interactive tests will be conducted this summer in the tsunami basin involving several sensor types, video, researcher-developed tools for landslide generation, and site specific tools for data organization and evaluation.
  • UC3. Framework for Development of Hybrid Simulation in an Earthquake Impact Assessment Context (PI: Spencer, Site: University of Illinois): Tests this summer focus on hybrid testing involving field data, advanced simulation tools, site specific simulation and assessment tools and the portable LBCB.

NEEScomm IT is currently working closely with these PIs to define the use cases and understand their needs as we move forward.

Most recently the DWG has begun providing input regarding updates of current policies associated with data sharing and publishing, which must be in place by June 15. We plan to have an approved, updated policy ready for the first release of NEEShub, which is scheduled for the end of July. NEEScomm would like to thank the DWG for their valuable advice and guidance in this startup phase. The members of this committee have worked diligently to provide a voice to represent the community for shaping of the NEEShub. Members of the DWG include: Gregory Deierlein (Stanford), Kurt Henkhaus (Graduate student Purdue University), Daniel Kuchma (UIUC), Tara Hutchinson (UCSD), Tommy Marullo (Lehigh Equipment Site), Santiago Pujol (Purdue), Sri Sritharam (ISU), Ann Zimmerman (U of Mich), Yurong Guo (Hunan University in China), Jose Fortes (U of Florida), and Shirley Dyke (Purdue chair).


A major earthquake occurred at 3:40:40 PM on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010. The magnitude 7.2 event occurred 83 km (39 miles) SSE of Calexico, California, in Baja Mexico and was ~110 km (68 miles) epicentral distance from the NEES@UCSB Wildlife liquefaction Array field site. The site was fully operational, including real-time data streaming via the HPWREN wireless network. The M7.2 event has provided a unique data set for the study of liquefaction. The Wildlife and other sites operated by NEES@UCSB are among a handful of sites with dense instrumentation at strategic soil layer depths. The instrumentation and thorough geophysical site characterization at the sites provide a natural laboratory for testing predictive models of soil behavior and ground shaking. For more information please visit the UCSB website at


Purdue University dedicated its newest research building at Discovery Park. The building houses eight separate research units, including the NEES Operations Headquarters (NEEScomm) of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). NEES featured several earthquake demonstrations which were well received by attending students, donors, university dignitaries and other building tenants. Below, civil engineering graduate student Ali Ozdagli shows Purdue University President France Cordova and other guests what happens inside and outside a structure during an earthquake.



The Governance Board met for the first time in Chicago on March 18, 2010. Dr. Joy Pauschke from NSF and Dr. Ian Buckle, President of the Equipment Site Forum and representatives of the NEEScomm Team were in attendance as well. Dr. BuckleÂ’s remarks provided the board with a perspective on the first 5 years of NEES, on the Equipment Site Forum, and on the activities of NEEScomm Steering Committee, the Board received and provided comments on the NEEScomm Strategic Plan and Performance Metrics for the project and on the FY2010 Annual Work Plan. The minutes of the Governance Board are being kept at NEEScomm Headquarters. The next meeting of the Governance Board has been scheduled in San Francisco on October 6th, 2010, in conjunction with the joint NEES-PEER Annual Meeting.


The UF is fully engaged in several activities of groups of NEEScomm, and is in the process of articulating a self-charge which will align with some (very) general goals:
  • Goal 1: Enable users to benefit from the experience of others.
  • Goal 2: Make sure everyone has a voice from students to researchers on their 25th NSF project.
  • Goal 3: Enable an understanding of the balance of needs and resources available.

A meeting of the forum has been scheduled May 4 2010 to discuss forum charge and operating procedures.



As part of our transition, the Site Operations Subcommittee (SOS) has been working to review and revise all existing NEES policies. Members of the SOS currently include: Marc Eberhard, Carol Shield, Jim Ricles, Bob Nigbor, Gustavo Parra, Wei Song, Scott Newbolds, and Meagan Kramer. The policies being reviewed are the Shared-Use Partnering Policy, Major Equipment Repair Policy, Fiscal Control Document, and the PMCR Policy. The revised policies will be sent to the sites and posted on as soon as they receive final approval.


Another transition requirement was the development of a Network-Wide Safety Policy. The purpose of this document is to provide an overarching policy that addresses safety for the NEES network. This document outlines Responsibilities and Requirements for NEEScomm, Sites, and Users; Dispute Resolution; Responding to Accidents and Incidents; and Web Accessible Safety Plans. The plan was developed with input from John Eston (consultant), several site managers, as well as the SOS. As with the previously mentioned policies, the Network-Wide Safety Policy will be sent to the sites and posted on as soon as it receives final approval.


The NEES Shared-Use Policy allows researchers working on non-NEES research projects to access NEES resources at the 14 Equipment Sites. A moratorium was placed on shared-use projects in order to evaluate network project load and to re-evaluate the policy. We are pleased to announce that the moratorium has been lifted and NEEScomm will now begin accepting applications for shared-use status. The interim policy has been posted on Requests for shared-use status will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For questions regarding the policy, please contact NEEScomm DSO This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The NEEScomm IT team's most significant accomplishment during the second quarter was the completion of Transition. This effort to bring onto Purdue hardware had been in the works since Fall 2009 and required an enormous amount of planning and coordination across multiple organizations. The go-live effort was carefully communicated and coordinated across the NEES community during the weeks leading up to Transition as well as during the week of Transition itself. A handful of non-critical items were completed after the week of February 15 with nothing outstanding as of the end of March.

With the completion of Transition, the NEEScomm IT team shifted its focus to NEEShub Release 1. NEEShub will replace and is scheduled for delivery near the end of July. NEEShub will offer a more collaborative environment with a heavy emphasis on data and tools. Communication sessions and training for NEEShub will be available in the months to come.



Again this year, we have a great NEES REU summer program planned. We are happy to have Alicia Lyman-Holt of Oregon State as the Coordinator for this summerÂ’s program. We will be hosting a total of 20 students at eight sites with several other additional students funded through other sources joining us for the Orientation and/or Young Researchers Symposium. We will have shared participation for all students in an introductory orientation meeting at UNR, the Young ResearcherÂ’s Symposium at the end of the summer and a summer on-line course.


We have finished two publications, a tri-fold general information brochure and a booklet compiling research highlights gathered from our community members and sites. Eighteen of these very impressive research highlights serve as a sample of the excellent work that has taken place in the network this past year. Just let us know about your research highlights as they happen and our EOT team will work with our communications specialist to add it to the impressive database that we have started. These research highlights will soon be posted on NEEShub so everyone can read about the NEES-R communityÂ’s latest


We are taking a new booth to the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE (SEI) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) first-ever combined Structures Congress/North American Steel Construction Conference (NASCC) meeting in Orlando, FL this May, and to the 9th US National and 10th Canadian Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Toronto, Canada July 25-29. If you happen to see us at either of these great events, stop by and say hello!


This year, the annual research meeting will be a joint meeting of NEES and PEER. It will be held at the Marriott Union Square Hotel in San Francisco, CA between October 6th and 9th. Look for updates on the web. We will be posting session topic information soon.


Taking advantage of the NEES cyberinfrastructure, Sherif Elfass, NEES site operations manager at the University of Nevada, Reno, demonstrated the dynamics of structures at the seventh annual College of Southern Nevada Science & Technology Expo in Las Vegas on April 9. The exhibit used the NEES cyberinfrastructure to remotely control a model structure on an educational shake table at University of Connecticut and collect data for participates to view. In addition the NEES@Reno site set up their mini shake table at the Expo. They demonstrated base isolation concepts by attaching two identical buildings; one isolated and one rigidly supported, to the table and subjecting them to earthquake motions. The Expo, commemorating NSF’s 60th anniversary, provided exciting interactive science and engineering displays to 5,000 middle and high school students, teachers, and community members from the region. When you have something noteworthy, something you think others in the earthquake engineering community might enjoy hearing about, let us help you spread the word. We want to hear from you! Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with news or questions.

Thank you,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Director NEES Operations
Purdue University