August 2001

From University of Southern California

NSF funds virtual "collaboratory" for better quakeproofing

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a $10 million award, as part of its George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) project. The integrated NEES network, called NEESgrid, will link earthquake engineering research sites across the country, provide data storage facilities and repositories, and offer remote access to the latest research tools.

Through NEESgrid, researchers will be able to conduct experiments using shake tables, centrifuges, and tsunami wave tanks from their desktop workstations. They also will be able to use computer simulation software and high-performance computing clusters, and share research data stored in online repositories. access to the latest research tools.

The effort will be led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The NEESgrid will take advantage of the grid tools and technologies developed over the last five years through the NSF's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program. Proven grid technologies--such as the Globus Toolkit for distributed computing, developed by Argonne National Laboratory and the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at the University of Southern California (USC), both partners in the effort--will be incorporated into the NEESgrid. Globus will allow researchers to seamlessly share experimental equipment, computational resources, and research data. access to the latest research tools.

In addition, NEESgrid will include collaboration and teleoperation tools developed through the NSF's Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) and Information Technology Research (ITR) initiatives and through the Department of Energy's DOE2000 effort. The Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work (CREW) at the University of Michigan's School of Information and Argonne's materials science division have developed operational collaboratories under these programs and are also members of the NEESgrid team. Joining NCSA, Argonne, ISI, and CREW in developing the NEESgrid are the UIUC and USC civil engineering departments and the National Laboratory for Applied Network Research. access to the latest research tools.

“The goal is to create a collaborative research network by linking researchers and engineering testing facilities across the United States, and providing them with the latest computational tools,” said Priscilla Nelson, NSF division director for civil and mechanical systems. “We expect this network to speed the simulations, experiments, and data analysis that lead to better seismic design and hazard mitigation.” access to the latest research tools.

"The NEES collaboratory and the NEESgrid will take many of the technologies developed through the PACI program and refine them for use by a specific technical community," said Dan Reed, director of NCSA and the National Computational Science Alliance. "This is a way for us to show the impact of the work we've been doing for the last five years and how we can apply what we've learned to the real-life needs of a group of scientists and engineers." access to the latest research tools.

Three communities of earthquake engineers will be served by the NEESgrid: (a)structural engineers, who study the impact of seismic activity on buildings, bridges and other structures; (b)geotechnical engineers, who study how seismic activity affects subsurface soil and rock, and the foundations of buildings and infrastructure; and (c)tsunami researchers, who are concerned with the formation and effects of tsunamis. access to the latest research tools.

"NEESgrid will be an environment not only for research engineers but for practicing engineers who are involved in the actual design and development of roads, bridges, dams and buildings," said Tom Prudhomme, principal investigator for NEESgrid. "Practicing engineers don't usually use research data and complex simulation models in their work because they don't have easy access to it or effective ways to validate the results. That is about to change." access to the latest research tools.

Development of NEES will continue through Sept. 30. 2004. A community-based NEES Consortium will operate the NEES collaboratory beginning in October 2004. access to the latest research tools.

NSF Contact:
Amber Jones

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright © 2004

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