Friday, July 16, 2010

Earthquake-Safe Buildings

As earthquake preparedness continues to be at the forefront of research and conversations around the globe, structural engineers at UC San Diego have received a boost in funding to help protect buildings and people from potential seismic disasters.

Benson Shing, a structural engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, will use a nearly $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to study and test performance-based seismic design methods and tools for reinforced masonry shear-wall structures. Under the three-year project, Shing and his colleagues will develop innovative methodologies and improved design requirements for the seismic resistance design of shear walls in reinforced masonry buildings, and reliable analytical tools for assessing their seismic performance in an effort to enhance the cost-effectiveness and performance of these structures. These types of masonry structures are mainly used for low rise commercial buildings, as well as for mid-to-low rise office buildings and hotels. As part of the grant, Shing plans to conduct a series of simulated earthquake tests on two-and-three-story shear wall systems at the end of 2011 and in early 2012 at the UC San Diego Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, home of the world’s largest outdoor shake table.

“We hope to break new ground in design and modeling,” Shing said about the project. Earlier this year, the NSIT awarded a total of $34.12 million in grants for measurement science and engineering research. The NIST Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants Program, made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will fund 27 projects at higher-education, commercial, and nonprofit organizations in 18 states.

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