OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU to help lead $20 million disaster resilience center

03/06/2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A team of Oregon State University researchers will help lead the Community Resilience Center of Excellence, a five-year, $20 million initiative to help communities improve resilience to natural disasters.

The center will be based at Colorado State University, and is a partnership of 10 institutions, funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It will develop computer tools to help local governments create resiliency in buildings and critical infrastructure, lessen the impact of extreme weather and other hazards, and recover rapidly in their aftermath.

“Engineering plays a big role in how resilient the built environment is in response to a variety of hazards,” said Daniel Cox, professor in the OSU School of Civil and Construction Engineering and associate director for the center. “The research at the center will help communities engineer and improve critical systems by providing them with the tools to make well-informed decisions.”

The primary goal of the center will be creation of the NIST-Community Resilience Modeling Environment. Built on an open-source platform and encompassing all forms of natural disasters, this computer model will incorporate a risk-based approach to decision-making and enable quantitative comparisons of different resilience strategies.

OSU civil and construction engineering associate professor Michael Scott and assistant professor Andre Barbosa will assist with the project, providing expertise in structural engineering and computer modeling.

Scott has helped create OpenSees, a software framework for developing models to simulate the performance of structural and geotechnical systems in earthquakes; Barbosa has conducted extensive research on reliability and risk-based analysis of civil infrastructure systems.

“In civil engineering, we learn a lot from past disasters and mistakes,” Cox said. “So it’s really important that we go out and collect uniform data. OpenSees and other predictive programs will provide a strong framework for us to build a comprehensive data collection and computer modeling tool.”

The center also includes experts from the University of Illinois, University of Oklahoma, Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, the University of South Alabama, California Polytechnic University in Pomona and Texas A&M-Kingsville.

This project continues OSU’s dedication to improve resiliency in the built environment.

Recent OSU efforts include leading the Cascadia Lifeline Program, a research initiative with government and private industry to help improve critical infrastructure performance during an anticipated major earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone; and involvement with the Oregon Resilience Plan, an initiative to mitigate damage from that earthquake and the resulting tsunami.

College of Engineering

About the OSU College of Engineering: The OSU College of Engineering is among the nation's largest and most productive engineering programs. Since 1999, the college has more than tripled its research expenditures to $37.2 million by emphasizing highly collaborative research that solves global problems. It is a leader in signature research areas, including precision health, clean energy, resilient infrastructure and advanced manufacturing; and targeted strategic areas, including robotics, materials research and clean water.