The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) promises to change modes of inquiry, research, and practice in earthquake engineering. When it becomes operational in October 2004, NEES will facilitate a major improvement in research by integrating experimental and computational simulation. Through unparalleled experimental, computational, and information technology resources, NEES has the potential to revolutionize the way that earthquake engineers conduct research and implement results into practice. This collaborative project involves eighteen researchers from ten universities. As such, it provides an ideal opportunity for demonstrating and challenging the new NEES model for conducting research and also addresses one of the most critical needs in earthquake engineering today: improved knowledge of soil-foundation-structure interaction (SFSI). The research plan involves four primary components: (1) four complementary experimental programs which will investigate key aspects of SFSI, (2) refinement of computational simulation models for SFSI, (3) management of the data and metadata generated in the investigation, and (4) outreach to the earthquake engineering community. Three of the four experimental programs will involve NEES Equipment Sites. The centrifuge tests will be conducted at the University of California, Davis, the shaking table tests will be conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the field tests will use the mobile equipment from the University of Texas at Austin. Structural tests will also be conducted at Purdue University. The integration of computational and experimental simulation is a key feature of NEES, and the computational models will be used to design the test specimens, develop the testing protocols, and evaluate the measured response. An important deliverable of the project is improved computational models for SFSI, calibrated from the experiments, in a form available for community use. Other important features of NEES are the curated data repositories and a collaborative research environment. The project team includes researchers from the NEES System Integration Project (NCSA for data management and CREW for collaborative tools). The project team will thereby test the tools being developed by the System Integrator and contribute to the development of enhanced data and metadata models. In addition, the project team is committed to working with members of the earthquake engineering community during this research project. All design documents, simulation models, simulation results, material properties, and measured data will be available to the community via web-based tools. Many of the experiments will be webcast in real time, and video clips from all experiments will be available. An effort will be made to encourage members of the community to submit comments and suggestions to the research team based on the preliminary research plan and to develop separate proposals to complement the proposed plan. A series of prediction competitions are also planned to evaluate a variety of computational models. Two complete course modules for undergraduate courses will be developed based on the research. In addition, the project team will promote the project and discuss the results at appropriate meetings and conferences to generate interest and encourage participation among practicing engineers.
The broader impacts of the proposed research are extensive. By integrating the educational and research activities within the project, the team demonstrates a commitment to advancing discovery and understanding in earthquake engineering while promoting teaching, training, and learning at the undergraduate level. The research team is also committed to broadening participation of underrepresented groups. The research team comprises a diverse group of faculty with respect to technical expertise, educational philosophies, age, gender, and ethnicity. In addition, San Jose State University does not grant the PhD degree in civil engineering, therefore, these students will be exposed to opportunities not currently available at their host institution. The research team will also enhance the infrastructure for research and education by sharing all experimental, computational, and educational data developed as part of this proposal. This information will be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding within the earthquake engineering community. The research team will also make a special effort to discuss the research results with engineers and decision makers in the state departments of transportation, thereby providing a mechanism for society to benefit from the results of the proposed research.