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Young Earthquake Researchers Gather for Symposium

9/17/2010 5:27:00 AM

Yeh Center
Yeh Center
Students enjoy the Ledge at Willis Tower in Chicago
Students enjoy the Ledge at Willis Tower in Chicago
Students pose on the Ledge at Willis Tower in Chicago.
The Illinois NEES Testing Facility in Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory hosted 28 undergraduate engineering researchers in August for the NEES Young Researcher Symposium. During the two-day event, students who had spent the summer participating in research at NEES equipment sites presented their work. 
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NEES is the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, a shared network of 14 unique experimental equipment facilities located at universities across the nation, collaborative tools, a centralized data repository, and earthquake simulation software. The Illinois NEES site houses the Multi-Axial Full-Scale Sub-Structure Testing and Simulation (MUST-SIM) facility, which provides a total testing-analysis-visualization-display environment that combines the ability to test full-scale subassemblies under complex loading and boundary conditions.
Illinois NEES researchers offer a tour of the MUST-SIM facility in Newmark Lab.
Illinois NEES researchers offer a tour of the MUST-SIM facility in Newmark Lab.
The summer NEES Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program offers students a chance to participate in earthquake engineering research at one of seven equipment sites. The Illinois NEES facility hosted three of the students. Those selected for the 10-week program come from civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and architecture programs at a variety of universities. Many of them came from schools that do not have NEES equipment sites. 
“The goal is not just to take them from NEES sites but to engage the whole country, specifically targeting some universities that are not Ph.D.-granting,” says Greg Pluta, Illinois NEES Operations Manager.
Man giving presentation to group of students
Students present their summer research in a poster session.
Students present their research at a poster session.
At the symposium, the culminating event of the REU program, organized and hosted by NEES faculty and staff, students presented their summer research in a joint poster session.   A keynote presentation by CEE Professor Bill Spencer focused on smart structures monitoring. Additional activities included an orientation to the geologic and architectural history of Chicago. The students traveled to Chicago for a day to participate in architectural tours of the city led by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In addition, the visiting students got a jogging tour of the University of Illinois campus, led by Pluta and Ph.D. Candidates Ray Foltz and Chris Hart from the Illinois NEES site, and an in-depth tour of the Illinois NEES facility.
“I put a lot of effort into trying to present it to the students in an engaging way,” Pluta says. “The facilities vary a lot in terms of what they do and how they do it, and this site is really unique. The students from Illinois were really proud to show the work they had done.”
Additional NEES personnel who attended or helped plan the symposium include REU program Co-Principal Investigator Professor Thalia Anagnos of San Jose State; NEES Director of Operations Dr. Scott Newbolds of Purdue University; NEES Operations Engineer Matt Lovell of Purdue; Barbara Cooper, Engineering, Outreach and Training Coordinator, of Purdue; and Professor Sean Brophy, Engineering, Outreach and Training Co-Lead, of Purdue.