CU-Boulder Opens State-Of-The-Art Earthquake Engineering Facility As Part Of National Network

Published: Oct. 31, 2004

Editors: A complete schedule of events follows the news release.

The University of Colorado at Boulder will launch a novel Fast Hybrid Test facility for earthquake engineering Nov. 15 as part of a national effort to improve the engineering of buildings, bridges, transportation systems and other structures to withstand severe earthquakes.

The CU-Boulder laboratory is part of the $81.8 million George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The network links 15 major earthquake-testing installations at universities around the country.

About 10 earthquakes per year inflict significant damage in the United States, and more than 75 million Americans in 39 states are at risk, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

NSF and university officials will officially launch the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Nov. 15 with demonstrations of the new experimental equipment at each of the university sites and a national briefing in Washington, D.C. An overview and demonstration of the Fast Hybrid Test System at CU-Boulder will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Discovery Learning Center at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The event is open to the public.

The FHT System, developed over the last four years at CU-Boulder, integrates physical testing with model-based simulation to achieve the most realistic and efficient evaluation of the response of large-scale structural systems to actual earthquake forces, according to senior research scientist Eric Stauffer. The system dramatically improves on conventional pseudo-dynamic tests by increasing the rate of forces applied to the structure and in many cases matches that of a real earthquake, he said.

Housed in the Engineering Center's 2,800-square-foot, high-bay civil engineering structures laboratory, the FHT System includes three high-speed hydraulic actuators capable of applying up to 100 tons of force both horizontally and vertically on a structure. The actuators move continuously to apply simulated earthquake forces to a test structure based on precise numerical computations, while the system simulates the response of the remaining structural components in a computer. In this way, physical and model testing and analysis are combined in real time.

The FHT System is accessible to researchers across the country for evaluating the performance of existing structures and validating new design methodologies for the mitigation of earthquake hazards. Remote users can access experimental data through a high-performance information network called the NEESgrid.

Colorado researchers also can perform experiments remotely at other facilities in the network, which include a variety of large-scale laboratories equipped with multiple actuators and shake tables, geotechnical centrifuges, a tsunami wave basin and field-testing equipment.

For more information, visit

NEES Grand Opening and Demonstration

Monday, Nov. 15, 2004


10:30 a.m. - Welcome and demonstration of the new Fast Hybrid Test System at the CU-Boulder Engineering Center, Discovery Learning Center, Bechtel Collaboratory

Fred Pampel, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, CU

Rob Davis, Dean, College of Engineering & Applied Science

JoAnn Silverstein, Chair, Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering

Benson Shing and Eric Stauffer, FHT Specialists

11:30 a.m. National briefing at NSF Headquarters and live demonstrations via webcast

Joseph Bordogna, Deputy Director, NSF

John Brighton, Assistant Director of Engineering, NSF

Ian Buckle, President, NEES Consortium

Noon - Live demonstrations of four NEES sites across the country

1 p.m. - Luncheon, Discovery Learning Center atrium

1:30 p.m. - Tour of the Fast Hybrid Test System Laboratory in Room ECCE 1B52

2 p.m. - "Past, Present, and Future of Fast Hybrid Testing,"

Fall 2004 Richardson Lecture by Benson Shing

3 p.m. - Closing remarks and reception

Participants are asked to RSVP by Nov. 5 by calling Eric Stauffer at (303) 735-3701.