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ORAU and NEES Pen Agreement for Earthquake Engineering Collaboration

New Partnership Will Give University Students and Faculty Access to State-of-the-Art Experimental Research Facilities

May 23, 2007

OAK RIDGE/DAVIS—ORAU is shaking things up by branching into the arena of earthquake engineering education and research after teaming up with NEES Consortium, Inc. (NEESinc). NEESinc is a nonprofit corporation that manages, operates and maintains the George E. Brown, Jr., Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) consortium, a national, shared-use research network for the earthquake engineering community.

The recently signed ORAU-NEES partnership agreement establishes the framework for the two organizations to launch mutually beneficial activities in research, education, outreach, and innovation activities that directly support each organization’s strategic mission. The two parties hope that the field of earthquake engineering research will be expanded to a broader and more diverse community through the new partnership.

One overreaching goal of the affiliation is to increase the number, quality and diversity of K–16 students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career fields and to preserve the competitiveness of the U.S. workforce, which is a key strategic thrust of ORAU’s mission.

“Earthquake engineering and simulation is an interdisciplinary area of research and study involving Civil, Computer, and Electrical Engineering; Geological and Materials Sciences; and Information Technology,” said Cathy Fore, director of ORAU’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Educational Institutions Partnership Development. “Through this partnership, student and faculty teams representing ORAU’s HBCU/MEI Council members will have a unique opportunity to gain new insights into emerging technologies that will affect lives on a global scale.”

NEES is the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) 10-plus year investment in earthquake engineering research that aims to reduce the vulnerability of civil infrastructure to damaging effects arising from future large earthquakes. The goal of NEES is to accelerate the rate at which research discoveries are made and integrated into engineering practice.

“This partnership will enable researchers and students to benefit from the NSF investment in NEES research and experimental facilities,” said John Whitmer, NEESinc. Director of Education, Outreach and Training. “Our hope is that this will inspire new generations of scientists and engineers.”

NEESinc includes 15 shared experimental research facilities in five general categories: Shake Tables, Tsunami Wave Basin, Geotechnical Centrifuges, Field Experimentation and Monitoring, and Large-Scale Laboratory Experimentation. These experimental research facilities are all located at major universities across the country, two of which are ORAU member universities: University of Nevada, Reno and University of Texas, Austin. For more information on NEES, see

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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NEES Contact:
John Whitmer

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