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Home Programs Natural Hazards Lehigh Wins $5M for Natural Hazards Engineering Research


Lehigh has received a highly competitive grant of $5 million to participate in a national initiative aimed at improving the resiliency and sustainability of the civil infrastructure to better withstand the effects of earthquakes and other natural hazards.


The five-year award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support the operation and maintenance to perform research using the unique experimental facilities located in Lehigh's ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Research Center.


The award is being made through NSF's $40 million Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program, which was launched today.


NHERI will support a network of state-of-the-art shared-use research facilities at seven U.S. universities that will evaluate the performance of engineering designs and materials during earthquakes, hurricanes and other storms, tsunamis, landslides and other disasters.


Lehigh was selected because its ATLSS facilities will enable researchers to conduct real-time, large-scale and multidirectional structural experiments that mimic the demands on structures from natural disasters, said James Ricles, the Bruce G. Johnston Professor of Structural Engineering and Lehigh's principal investigator (PI) on the NHERI project.


In the ATLSS Center, researchers have also gained extensive experience in performing other types of large-scale experiments that will help NHERI researchers evaluate and confirm the resiliency of structural designs:

  • Hybrid simulation (HS), which combines large-scale physical test models with computer-based numerical simulation models;

  • Geographically distributed hybrid simulation (DHS), in which the various components of a hybrid simulation are located at different sites while data is transmitted via the Internet and interpreted in real time;

  • Real-time hybrid earthquake simulation (RTHS), in which hybrid simulations are conducted at the actual time scale of physical events;

  • Geographically distributed RTHS tests;

  • Dynamic testing, in which researchers subject large-scale physical models at real-time rates through predefined load histories;

  • Quasi-static testing, which loads large-scale physical models at slow rates through predefined load histories.

The NHERI program follows NSF's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) program, which supported earthquake engineering, innovation and education at 15 U.S. universities, including Lehigh, from 2004-2014.


NEES researchers advanced the state of the art in earthquake retrofitting, tsunami preparation, performance-based design and other areas, said NSF officials. The NHERI program will extend these advances to the protection of life and property during severe windstorms.


Read the full story at the Lehigh University News Center.


And for more information, take this virtual tour of the Lehigh NHERI facility:




Recent Project

PITA Project: Integrated Framework using Monitoring and Reliability for Improved infrastructure Management under Uncertainty: Phases 1, 2, and 3


The aim of the PITA project is to develop a novel integrated framework using structural health monitoring and reliability technologies for improved bridge management under uncertainty. Through the use of new technologies and the employment of structural health monitoring and reliability approaches, the project is expected to have significant impact on bridge lifetime management practices.


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