A top National Science Foundation [NSF] official today (Feb. 23) described to a House subcommittee how the NSF plans to use information technology [IT] to establish a cyber Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation [NEES].
Testifying before the House Committee on Science' Subcommittee on Basic Research, Joseph Bordogna, NSF acting deputy director, said that NEES "will change the face of earthquake engineering." His statement was part of testimony in favor of re-authorizing the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program [NEHRP].
NEES "will use IT to serve a critical national need (reducing and mitigating effects of earthquakes): to help save lives and money; and to make more efficient use of government's investment in science and engineering," Bordogna said.
NSF is seeking $7.7 million in its fiscal 2000 budget request for the first year of a planned five-year, $81.9 million program for NEES.
Bordogna told the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.), that NEES, like NEHRP, was initiated in response to a mandate from Congress to take stock of the nation's experimental and testing capability in earthquake engineering.
NEES will use a computer network to bring "a complete collection of state-of-the-art facilities under one 'virtual roof,'" Eugene Wong, NSF's assistant director for engineering, said. "It will provide remote access to users, and make a complete system of testing and experimental facilities available to the entire earthquake engineering community." Networking software will enable the system to use models and databases to develop model-based simulation, Wong added.
More than 30 U.S. institutions currently have some kind of experimental earthquake engineering facilities. These include shake tables for earthquake simulations, reaction walls for pseudodynamic testing, geotechnical centrifuges for testing soils during earthquakes, and floor reaction systems.
NEES funds would be used to: create new shake tables and upgrade existing shake tables; build centrifuges and Tsunami testing tanks; build new reaction walls, load simulators and response modifiers; and create field test facilities (i.e. mobile equipment, field sites and post-quake labs). Funds will also provide for system integration and to ensure completion of all core facilities.
Bordogna stated that NEES can serve as an educational tool for students and the public, and as the primary repository of earthquake engineering physical experiments and data. He added that NEES also will leverage public and private investments in the $100 billion-a-year IT industry by using existing software and making effective use of the high-speed networking infrastructure that is one of NSF's most successful ventures.
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