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NSF taps University of Nevada, Reno to take national lead on study of bridge earthquake safety

December 13, 2004

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Nevada, Reno a $2 million grant to take the lead on research studying the safety and performance of highway bridges under destructive earthquakes.

"This was an extremely competitive grant," said M. Saiid Saiidi, the University's principal investigator of the project, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Undergraduate Research Office. "There were 115 proposals submitted, with requests totaling $178 million. Only $9 million was available for the project, and the University received $2 million of those monies."

Researchers from four other universities will work with the Nevada team on this project: Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, San Diego; and Florida International University.

The project will involve shake-table testing of a bridge abutment at U.C. San Diego and testing of three, four-span bridge models more than 100 feet long each at Nevada.

Both conventional bridges and models using innovative materials such as nickel and titanium alloys and carbon fiber composites will be investigated. Other aspects of the study will include the use of wireless sensors, advanced information technology tools and outreach to K-12 students and teachers.

Other University project team members include Ian Buckle, Ahmad Itani and Gokhan Pekcan of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Researchers from Japan and Europe also are expected to interact with the Nevada team.

The project is among 10 grants awarded by the National Science Foundation in the $340,000 to $2 million range. It is also the first group of research projects to use the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

NEES advances earthquake engineering research through the integration of experimentation, theory, data, and model-based simulation. The consortium includes 15 major earthquake engineering experimental research installations and integrates those facilities with central data and computational services through a unique IT infrastructure

The goal of NEES is to provide a national network of geographically distributed, shared-use next-generation experimental research equipment sites, with tele-observation and tele-operation capabilities. It is anticipated that the findings will transform the environment for earthquake engineering research and education through collaborative and integrated experimentation, computation, theory, databases and model-based simulation to improve the seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical infrastructure systems. The earthquake engineering faculty in the University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are recognized internationally for their high-quality work. In the past five years they have received nearly $15 million in research funds from a variety of sources including several federal agencies and both the California and Nevada Departments of Transportation.
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University of Nevada, Reno

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