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NEEScomm Update: September 2010

Posted in Announcements

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

NEES Update

September 2010

We are pleased to share with you that the NEES strategic plan was developed using a community-focused strategic planning methodology and is available for your review at Strategic Plan 2010-2014. This process was integral in understanding and acknowledging the needs and concerns of stakeholders in order to develop a comprehensive NEES vision. The plan is a living document and we welcome your input to improve it.

Interest and participation in the 2010 annual meeting has been exceptionally popular--so much so that we have had to find a larger meeting space to accommodate the nearly 500 attendees from both the NEES and PEER communities in the technical sessions. The technical sessions for the annual meeting October 8-9 have moved to larger conference rooms provided by another hotel--the Marriott Marquis. The Marriott Marquis is a short walk from the Marriott Union Square venue and is still located in the heart of downtown San Francisco and can accommodate all registrants comfortably. The walk should be pleasant this time of the year and the area is safe for pedestrians. Thank you for making this year’s meeting such a success!

The 8th Planning Meeting for the NEES/E-Defense Collaborative Earthquake Engineering Research Program took place in Kobe, Japan on September 17-18, 2010. Twenty-one participants were funded from the NSF coordination grant to Prof. Steve Mahin. Representing NEEScomm were Julio Ramirez, Center Director and member of the Joint Technical Coordinating Committee, and JoAnn Browning, Chair of the Requirements Analysis and Assessment Subcommittee. Dr. Farzad Naeim from John A. Martin & Associates, Chair of the NEES Governance Board and member of the Joint Technical Coordinating Committee, also participated at the meeting. The topics discussed included: (a) reinforced concrete high performance systems, (b) structures isolation and control, (c) underground structures, and (d) power systems. The participants also had the opportunity to witness a successful test of a full-scale multi-story hospital building with base isolation on the E-Defense shake-table.

Congratulations to Gregory Deierlein, the John A. Blume Professor in the School of Engineering, Stanford University, and his collaborators Jerome Hajjar, Chair and Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University, and Sarah Billington, Associate Department Chair and Associate Professor, Stanford University, who have been recognized by “Popular Mechanics” magazine as one of several winning teams of the magazine’s annual Breakthrough Awards. They designed a system that features “fuses” which absorb the shock of an earthquake and cables that control the rocking of the building then pull it back into alignment once shaking has stopped. (NSF Award #0530756, “NEESR-SG: Controlled Rocking of Steel-Framed Buildings with Replaceable Energy Dissipating Fuses,” Deierlein, principal investigator, and Hajjar and Billington, co-principal investigators). An article in The Dish at Stanford University expands on the recognition as does the online version of Popular Mechanics. They and the other nine winners will be honored at a ceremony in New York City on October 5.

Congratulations also go to Professor Ian Buckle and the NEES@UNR site at The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) for receiving a $12.2 million award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to expand and customize its facilities housing the NEES shake tables. The new 22,650 sq. ft. lab, to be completed by Fall 2013, will accommodate up to five large-capacity shake tables and allow for experiment configurations that are not possible now in the existing facility. For more information, visit UNR Media Newsroom.


The joint PEER/NEES annual meeting is just around the corner; many exciting talks are scheduled and the community has requested a number group meetings. Registration has exceeded all expectations. On Saturday, October 9, an EOT workshop will be held from 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m., at which we will discuss new developments and future EOT plans. You are invited to meet with colleagues, try out the new NEEShub, and hear all the latest research news.

New endeavors include the beginnings of a NEES Ambassador's Program. Oregon State offers an ambassador's program in which undergraduates provide tours and other outreach activities to visitors to the Hinsdale Wave Flume. The idea of building the NEES Ambassador's program developed from Oregon’s highly successful effort.

NEES is nearing completion on an agreement with Howard University to engage its ASCE Student chapter as NEES Ambassadors for the greater Washington D.C. area. NEES is also beginning to work with the University of Texas, Austin to engage its student chapter of EERI in similar outreach activities. The NEES community will collaborate to share great outreach ideas, capture appropriate educational 'nuggets' (videos, demonstrations, curricular or other training materials) and build age appropriate educational units for several audiences. Trainers will be prepared who will, in turn, train the ambassadors. All the nuggets and educational modules will be available through NEESacademy on NEEShub. This is an opportunity to magnify NEES EOT efforts across the network by building on what others are doing and by sharing efforts and resources.

EOT is being emphasized more frequently in NSF proposals. It is vital to the future of NEES as a network that EOT efforts result in maximum impact. We encourage you to leverage your EOT efforts by sharing efforts and results with others in the NEES community taking advantage of the new NEES platform for collaboration, NEEShub.


NEEShub Release 1.1 was moved to production in early September. Update and upload features for Projects and Sites were the primary focus of this release. The Project Editor, the PEN (Project Explorer for NEES) tool, and Web Services are now available to update or upload Project Warehouse data. The Site Editor is now available for updating Earthquake Equipment Site data. Finally, a handful of downloadable tools (flexTPS, NEESdaq, NHCP, and OpenFresco) are now accessible through the Tools menu.


NEES@Buffalo completed the first phase of experimental “proof of concept” Negative Stiffness Device tests on Monday August 30, 2010. The tests were broadcast for the first phase of the study and focused on the prototype of a negative stiffness device that was designed at University at Buffalo (UB), built by Taylor Devices, Inc., and tested by the researchers at UB and Rice University in a three stories structural model isolated with elastomeric bearings (see Fig. 1 below).

By designing a ductile structure and letting the structure yield under strong earthquakes, the forces acting on the structure can be reduced to the level dictated by the yield level. However, the structure undergoes permanent displacement. In this study, yielding is emulated in a structural system by adding an "adaptive negative stiffness device" and shifting the “yielding” away from the main structural system—leading to the new idea of "apparent softening and weakening" that occurs ensuring structural stability at all displacement amplitudes. For this purpose a novel adaptive negative stiffness device, NSD, that is capable of changing the stiffness as a function of device displacement, is developed. For more information, visit NEESAdaptStruct.

Figure 1: Negative Stiffness Device 'in motion' during broadcast experiment.

2010 Young Researcher Symposium

On August 18, 28 REU students met at University of Illinois to showcase their summer’s work at the Young Researcher’s Symposium. The day started with a keynote talk by Dr. Billie Spencer on Smart Sensing Technology. The students were then treated to a tour of the NEES@UIUC laboratory where graduate students summarized several of the exciting ongoing experimental studies. The REU students then presented the results of their research this summer at a poster session. Cristian Acevedo, who worked with Dr. Jack Moehle this summer on shear wall boundary elements, was awarded best poster. To recognize his achievements, NEES is supporting Cristian to attend Quake Summit 2010 and present his work at the poster session. On August 19, the students were introduced to the history of high-rise construction through an architectural tour of Chicago. Thank you, to Site Operations Manager Greg Pluta and the whole team at NEES@UIUC for planning such an outstanding, culminating event for the 2010 REU program. And thanks to Alicia Lymon-Holt from Oregon State University for coordinating and operating the entire REU program. This year was a great success.


On Thursday September 9, NEEScomm distributed Letters of Intent to continue funding subawards to each of the 14 NEES equipment site institutions. In anticipation of a funding increment from NSF for the NEES Ops Cooperative Agreement, the NEEScomm Business Office has budgeted funds from this initial FY11 increment for equipment site operational expenses – with the objective of uninterrupted site operations and research support at every equipment site.

Thank you,


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Director NEES Operations
Purdue University