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

NEES Update

September 2011




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

  • Research Highlights:  Major Shake-Table Test of Curved-Bridge at UNR
  • Information Technology:  NEEShub Updates and Wish Lists
  • Partnerships and Research Collaboration:  NEES/E-defense 9th Planning Meeting
  • Management and Operations:  Implementation of the new NEEScomm Site Visit Protocol
  • EOT:  Internal and Outreach Community Enrichment Activities

Research Highlights

Major Shake-Table Test of a Curved-Bridge at UNR

Figure 1


The recent test of a multi-span bridge is part of a larger project investigating seismic resilience of multi-span curved steel bridges. The project is being conducted with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Unique to this particular test were the full-size trucks loaded onto the model bridge to study effects of live load during the shaking. 

The test was recently performed at the NEES site of the University of Nevada, Reno, on a multi-span curved bridge which is a 2/5-scale model of a prototype three-span steel bridge. The 2/5-scale model is 145 ft long with an 80 ft radius at the centerline with each of its four supports resting on a shake-table in the laboratory.  The superstructure consists of three steel girders and a concrete deck that is 12 ft wide.  The overall project includes six different configurations to be tested to examine different components, including column design (with and without conventional columns), abutment design (with and without backfill behind the abutments), seismic isolation (with and without response modification devices), and the effects of live load (with and without trucks on the superstructure).  The overall project is led by Prof. Ian Buckle, from University of Nevada, Reno. The model was designed by a team of eight graduate students under the supervision of three professors in civil engineering. Click here for more details about the project.

The results of this research will be used to improve bridge seismic design specifications in the US and abroad.

Click on the link to view the video and full article on Nevada Today                                        

 Click on the link to view the video on YouTube

Information Technology

NEEShub Update

Release 3.5

The next NEEShub release is right around the corner on November 16. The major focus areas in this release will be metrics and simulation. NEEScomm will be gradually deploying an improved set of metrics on NEEShub usage based on recommendations from the NEES Governance Board and the input received during the annual NSF Site Visit to the NEEScomm Center in August 2011. A subset of the revised metrics will be available in Release 3.5.

Simulation will get a boost of functionality with the ability to submit OpenSees jobs to Teragrid and the addition of a scratch space for temporary storage of large submit results.   Many other functionality improvements will be included in the release. All the details will be provided in the Release announcement on November 16.

NEEShub Wish List

Do you have functionality you would like added to the NEEShub?

If so, the step you need to take is to add a ‘wish’ to the NEEShub Wish List at: The Wish List is where you can submit your ideas for improving the NEEShub. Almost all work the NEEScomm IT Team does is based on ideas that come from the NEES community through the Wish List.

Figure 2

The Wish List is found under the blue bar menu option of ‘Collaborate’. From there, click the ‘Add a Wish’ link in the upper right corner or search through existing wishes and give them your ‘thumbs up’. The ‘thumbs up’ is a voting mechanism that helps NEEScomm IT understand user preferences during the wish list prioritization process. Either way, NEEScomm IT welcomes your Wish List input for improving the NEEShub.

NEEShub updates and implementation of community wish list items must be tested and debugged before they are released to the community. The NEEScomm team members responsible for the updates have a sandbox at Bowen Large-Scale Civil Engineering Laboratory of Purdue University to test, as appropriate, updates and new features resulting from the prioritization process of the wishes submitted by the NEES community.

NEES EOT and IT staff recently visited Bowen Laboratory for an introduction to the small scale NEEScomm test-bed. The purpose of the visit was to get a deeper understanding of what typically takes place in the testing environments of the NEES 14 facilities. They participated in an experiment led by graduate student Gaby Ou involving frequency vibrations on a steel structure model.

Participants were able to assist with the data collection during and after the completion of the experiment.

Among the NEEScomm staff participating was newly hired Site Operations Engineer, Dann Parker. “As a new employee to NEEScomm, visiting the Bowen Laboratory was extremely helpful as I was able to actually see the types of sensors used and how data is collected in many of the experiments conducted in the NEES network,” says Parker.   The visit was a valuable experience and great opportunity for staff members to ask questions relating to their roles and responsibilities in the network.

The goals of the test-bed revolving around the typical “Data Flow” used by NEES researchers are to train IT professionals in the types of activities performed during real-world experiments and to validate new IT developments.

The test-bed is based on frequently used equipment housed at the NEES equipment sites to ensure it is representative equipment.

Partnerships and Research Collaboration

NEES/E-defense 9th Planning Meeting

Figure 3

The 9th Planning Meeting for the NEES/E-Defense collaborative earthquake engineering research program was held on August 26-27, 2011, in Kobe and Miki (E-Defense), Japan.

At the time of the meeting, there was a test of a full-scale, 5-story tall, seismically isolated steel building. 

The test is a collaborative effort between the NEEStips Project (Keri Ryan, PI), the NEES Nonstructural Grand Challenge Project (Manos Maragakis, PI) and NIED/E-Defense investigators.  

More information on this test, and a related blind analysis contest and a workshop on protective systems to be held at E-Defense can be found at:

Under the current collaboration there are four joint projects well underway.  Planning continues in earnest for future efforts on these and the other research project areas identified under the "resilient communities" theme.

Proceedings of the 9th planning meeting are posted at:

Management and Operations

Implementation of the new NEEScomm Site Visit Protocol

NEEScomm has developed a new site visit protocol to provide a more standardized approach to our site visits. Given NEEScomm’s network oversight responsibilities, the overarching purpose of the site visit is to ensure that NEES sites are meeting NSF performance expectations.

Figure 4

In the development of the site visit protocol the equipment site requirements and responsibilities were grouped into different review areas to encompass all aspects of NEES equipment site operations. This approach allows subject matter experts to focus on their respective areas.

The review areas are:

  • Environment, Health, and Safety, Physical Security, and Emergency Preparedness;
  • Facility Management, Equipment, and Research Project Support;
  • Budget, Finances, and Contracts;
  • Information Technology and Cyber Security; and
  • Education, Outreach, and Training (EOT)

NEEScomm utilized these new protocols on a test-case site visit to the NEES@Minnesota equipment site September 29-30, 2011. The site visit included discussions with NEES@Minnesota staff and University of Minnesota representatives.

Representatives from NSF, including Program Director Dr. Joy Pauschke, also attended the site visit. NEEScomm would like to thank the site PI Prof. Carol Shield, the NEES@Minnesota staff, and university representatives for their efforts to make this test-case implementation of the new NEEScomm site visit protocol a successful endeavor.

Education, Training and Outreach (EOT) Activities

EOT members of the NEEScomm team interacted with students and teachers from two Indiana schools and provided great opportunities to implement lessons located on NEESacademy.

Click here to view video highlights of the recent visit with Culver Academy and their engineering students. We encourage the NEES community to tap into the NEESacademy as it continues to develop into a valuable resource for educators focused on shaping the future of students and teachers interested in earthquake engineering and science.

Join the Great Shakeout!

Do you know what you would do to protect yourself if a major earthquake happened right now? Do your employees? What about your suppliers, distributors, and their employees? When was the last time you practiced what to do?

The Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are a great opportunity for your organization to learn, get prepared, and practice what to do during earthquakes: Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

While we don’t know when a damaging earthquake will strike, we can act now to limit its consequences. Businesses, organizations, schools and individuals, if properly prepared and informed, are more likely to respond appropriately and reduce their recovery time. Practice is essential, which is the purpose of the ShakeOut drill.

The first ShakeOut drill was held in 2008 with over 5 million participants throughout Southern California.  In 2010, more than 8 MILLION people participated in California, Nevada, and Guam.  And in early 2011, more than 3 MILLION people participated in the Central U.S. ShakeOut.  To join and participate, see information below:


Thursday, October 20th at 10:20 a.m Includes CaliforniaNevada, Guam, OregonIdaho, and British Columbia

February 7, 2012 at 10:15 am: Central U.S. which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.  Other States such as Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Georgia may also participate.

April 17, 2012 at 10:15 am: Utah

REGISTRATION:  Organizations of many sizes are participating and you can too.  Please visit to register for your State's drill.  

If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

What’s Next ?

As mentioned in last month’s update, the NEES Equipment Site Scheduling protocol is ready for deployment. Be sure to participate in the upcoming public webinar to introduce the new process.   Click here for more information about the protocol and how to register for the October 17 webinar.

Details for filming of NEES for an upcoming segment of Profiles Series will be finalized this month. We are looking forward to this project and will update you as we learn more about filming and airing details.

Thank you,




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