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Posted in Announcements

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

NEES Update

August 2011




Described in this month’s update are several activities that impact you. These activities include:

  • Representation of NEES at this year’s Congressional Hazards Caucus in Washington D.C.
  • Important information about the newly implemented site scheduling protocol for ongoing and new projects resulting from this year NEESR solicitations
  • Information on NEEShub release and cybersecurity, and several recent news events now available on NEEShub

Learn about what to be watching for in our new “what’s next” section including dates for the 2012 annual meeting which will be held jointly in Boston with the CMMI grantees meeting.

Best wishes for a successful beginning of your academic year to all professors and students!

NEES represented at the Hart Senate Office building event in Washington D.C.

Figure 1

Timing of the annual Congressional Hazards Caucus couldn’t have been more perfect. With the heightened awareness of natural disasters and the recent 5.8 Mineral City earthquake in Virginia that rattled our nation’s capitol and damaged the Washington Monument, caucus members gathered at the Hart Senate Office Building on September 7, 2011 with experts in the various fields to build awareness of the importance of research-developed preparedness. This year’s theme “Which Hazards Are in Your Backyard?” showcased NSF-funded hazards research including the recent test on the NEES shake tables at the University of Nevada, Reno Harry Reid Laboratories.

Figure 2

A team of NEES representatives shown in the photo from left to right: Dr. Julio Ramirez (NEEScomm Director), Ali Irmak Ozdagli (Purdue University, Graduate Student), Dr. Joy Pauschke (NEES Program Director, NSF), Misha Raffiee (undergraduate researcher involved in the NEESR 4-span bridge project) and Dr. Keith Adams (NEEScomm EOT Director).

In addition, Professor Mehdi Saiidi of University of Nevada-Reno presented videos of the June 2010 test of a 110-ft long 4-span bridge on the NEES earthquake simulators of the NEES@Reno equipment site in the Harry Reid Laboratories at the University of Nevada, Reno. The bridge structure supported on piers incorporating unique materials such as glass and carbon fiber composite fabrics and tubes, innovative connections, and built using pioneering accelerated construction methods was subjected to simulated ground motions that were three times larger than the destructive 1994 Northridge earthquake.



Figure 3

Keynote speaker Senator Bill Nelson was in attendance along with members of the caucus to interact with the 30 exhibits and presentations. Attendees were able to experience hands-on activities at the NEES exhibit, including a demonstration by graduate student Ali Irmak Ozdagli on new devices that dissipate energy to reduce the motion of a building during and earthquake. The devices consist of fluid dampers that use magnetorheological (MR) fluid to reduce the motion of a building during earthquake motions.  The importance of the event helped to showcase the cutting edge research being performed at the NEES research sites and reinforce for the need of continued NSF financial support to fund earthquake engineering research.

The conclusion of the event was followed by a meeting between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff with Professor Saiidi to discuss specific earthquake engineering research at the Harry Reid Labs. At this meeting, other event participants from Nevada also presented their research.

Implementation of NEES Site Scheduling Protocol

To ensure that the scheduling of ongoing and new research projects within the NEES network is well defined, projects progress towards a timely completion, transparent, and minimizes changes in project schedules a new NEES Equipment Site Scheduling Protocol has been developed and is being implemented.  This protocol was arrived by working with NSF, the equipment sites, the NEES Users Forum and other NEES groups. An interim version of the document has been posted on the NEEShub (  Upon final approval by the NEES Governance Board, this document will be the operational document for scheduling projects at NEES facilities.  Thank you to all involved for your efforts in bringing this document about.

Figure 4

The NEES Scheduling Protocol document defines the roles and responsibilities of various parties involved in the project scheduling process. This document also includes a list of the scheduling processes for new and existing research projects (NSF projects, including NEESR, and all other projects). Finally, this document outlines methodologies for making scheduling changes and relocation of projects if the scenario becomes necessary.

As part of the new scheduling process, researchers proposing to the NEESR Solicitation, NSF 11-566 are required to include the Site Utilization Request Form (SURF), that has been developed in line with the new scheduling protocol, and is posted on the NEEShub policies page.  The purpose of the document is for researchers to make an initial request for use of a NEES equipment site.   Guidance on how to complete the document is included in the posted SURF document. Ongoing projects at the NEES sites are also being required to complete this form.

Figure 5

Another new aspect of the Site Scheduling Protocol is that projects will be required to develop an Experimental Testing Plan (ETP).  The ETP is a detailed document that outlines the specific scope, equipment, specimen details, etc. of the tests that will be conducted at the equipment site.  The ETP is envisioned to be a planning tool for researchers and sites to document the planned experimental activities.  Overall, the goal is to make the most efficient use of the NEES equipment sites.  A sample ETP document is posted along with the protocol on the NEEShub policies page.

The protocols also require the creation of a Site Scheduling Committee (SSC).  This committee will serve as the nexus for scheduling projects in the NEES network and will be responsible for review of the impact of new projects on the sites overall schedule, project progress, and requested schedule changes to existing projects that impact other experiments at the sites. Jamie Steidl, NEES@UCSB, has agreed to be the chair of the Site Scheduling Committee.  We would like to thank Jamie for agreeing to take on this role.

Jamison Steidl

The new protocols will impact new projects as well as projects already approved.  The following plan has been developed for the implementation of the protocol.  The plan outlines the impacts to NSF projects (both NEESR and other NSF) and projects previously approved for shared-use status.

  • Projects (NSF and those previously approved for shared-use status) that began specimen construction/instrumentation in FY11 do not need to complete a SURF or submit an Experimental Test Plan.
  • Projects (NSF and those previously approved for shared-use status) that began specimen construction/instrumentation in FY11, but will have a separate phase of testing in subsequent fiscal years, need to follow the steps outlined in the protocol to have the remaining phases placed on the schedule.  That is, they will need to complete a SURF and ETP for the remaining phases.
  • Projects (NSF and those previously approved for shared-use status) that have not begun specimen construction/instrumentation and any new projects need to follow the steps outlined in the protocol to be placed on the schedule.  That is, they will need to complete a SURF and ETP.

To inform the community of important aspects of the implementation of the Site Scheduling Protocol, NEES will be conducting a webinar in October (date TBD).  Please keep an eye out for the announcement.

July/Aug 2011 Information Technology Updates

NEEShub Release 3.0

NEEShub Release 3.0 was implemented on July 27. This release featured a significant Hubzero base code upgrade with an emphasis on improved groups functionality and minor related changes to the Project Editor/Warehouse. Additionally, a new Simulation Landing page was added to NEEShub as the launching point for increased focus on simulation throughout the upcoming Project Year. Another extension supporting simulation was the new capability to submit OpenSees jobs on the Open Science Grid (OSG) through NEEShub. This feature provides powerful and free computing resources to researchers for OpenSees work.

NEEShub Releases for Year 3 (Oct 2011 to Sept 2012)

High-level plans are now in place for NEEShub releases during the next Project Year. An intermediate release is planned for mid-November 2011. A more extensive release, 4.0, is planned for June 2012. Details about the upcoming November release will be made available within the next 3-4 weeks.

Cybersecurity Scans

Equipment Site IT Managers and the NEEScomm IT Cybersecurity Engineer have been hard at work ensuring the integrity of the cyberinfrastructure at the NEES equipment sites. Detailed Cybersecurity scans were conducted between March and July to diagnose any potential security vulnerabilities. The results of the scans have been very positive with mainly minor findings that are being addressed by the Site IT Managers in a timely manner.


Figure 7

East Coast Wake-Up Call

The M5.8 earthquake that hit Virginia last month is the largest earthquake to hit the east coast in 67 years and has “shaken up” the policymaking community into revisiting the importance of disaster mitigation.  

The damage to the Washington Monument has stirred increased interest due to the proximity of our nation’s monuments and historical institutions. The event has prompted discussions that have generally been associated with the west coast. With its commitment to research and partnerships with engineering professionals and scientists focused on improving the resilience of US infrastructure NEES stands ready as a national resource.

NEEShub Project Warehouse Update

Figure 8

In reference to the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute September newsletter, two highlighted projects “Behavior of Braced Steel Frames With Innovative Bracing Schemes” and “Evaluation of Ground Rupture Effects on Critical Lifelines” are outlined as data updates in the NEEShub Project Warehouse. Both important research projects are now readily available using the tool indeed within NEEShub.

NEES Research Published in ENR

ENR subscribers should be sure to look for the article "Tests Show Premature Failure of Shear-Stud Reinforcement" in the August 29 edition.  The article is based on NEES research conducted at the NEES@Minnesota laboratory by Professors Gustavo Parra and Carol Shield and directly quotes a practitioner highlighting the value of the NEES research.

New Hires at NEEScomm

We are very proud to announce the most recent hires at NEEScomm. The newest team members are working hard to help organize and support the needs of the NEES community in their areas of expertise.   Please visit NEEShub and meet the newest team members on the NEEScomm IT, EOT and Business Office Team pages:

What’s NEXT?

Mark Your Calendar! Plan to join us at the 2012 NEES Annual Meeting, July 8-12, 2012 in Boston and follow details about this important event in future monthly updates. 

Report of the Simulation Steering Committee, which provides a vision of the community on computational and hybrid simulation and recommends steps in pursuit of this vision will be posted to NEEShub shortly.

NEES will be featured on an upcoming segment of “The Profiles Series” hosted by Louis Gossett, Jr.   These series airs in venues such as Bravo and Discovery channels. As filming dates are set and locations chosen, we will update you on more of this exciting development!

Thank you,




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Director, NEES Operations
Purdue University