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Real-Time Multi-Directional Testing Facility

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Real-Time Multi-Directional Testing Facility (RTMD) at Lehigh University is a part of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). RTMD is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NEES is the centerpiece of NSF’s ongoing priority to understand earthquakes and prevent or mitigate the damage they cause. Opened for operations on Oct. 1, 2004, NEES is a network of sites available for experimentation on-site, in the field, and through remote operations. The network helps researchers understand how earthquake and tsunami forces affect ground motion and soil liquefaction as well as the built environment—buildings, bridges, utility systems—and near-shore and coastal environments. The NEES networking cyberinfrastructure connects equipment sites and provides a tele-presence, a curated central data repository, simulation tools and collaborative tools for facilitating on-line planning, execution and post-processing of experiments.

In laboratory tests, the effects of gravity and other physical forces generated by violent shaking are influenced by the weight and size of the model being used. Therefore, it is important to be able to test full-size models in order to more accurately recreate the effects of earthquakes on structures. RTMD is capable of testing "life-size" walls, columns, beams, and other structural components.

Education & Outreach

RTMD staff are actively involved in education and outreach activities. Examples include workshops to showcase the laboratory and hosting an event for Steel Day 2009, a networking opportunity for members of the design, construction and structural steel industry. In preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, RMD staff reviewed the architechtural and structural design of the main Olympic venues, including the National Stadium (bird nest) and National Swimming Center (Water Cube).

The NEES Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program is a dynamic 10-week summer research program for upper division undergraduate students interested in Civil Engineering, Computer Science/Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and other fields related to seismic risk mitigation testing. REU participants are paired with a faculty advisor, join a NEES research team, and participate in enrichment activities including attending the NEES Annual Meeting and the Young Researchers’ Symposium. Mentors, including university faculty, researchers, and graduate students, provide support and guidance to interns. Students are taught how to conduct independent research and how to participate effectively as a member of a research team.

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  • Image from the NSF-funded Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.