The Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure Computational Modeling and Simulation Center, or SimCenter, received a $12.75 million renewal award from the National Science Foundation on Sept. 16.
Distributed over four years, the award will fund research contributing to harm-mitigation strategies for communities and infrastructure in the face of natural hazards, according to a SimCenter press release.
“The computational tools being developed by the SimCenter will offer unprecedented capabilities for high-resolution simulations,” said Gregory Deierlein, SimCenter co-director. “The simulations and the underlying data will enable multi-disciplinary research that will ultimately inform policies and design decisions to create more resilient communities.”
The grant, which goes into effect Oct. 1, will allow SimCenter researchers to continue the work they began when the project was founded five years ago, according to Sanjay Govindjee, SimCenter principal investigator and co-director.
The ongoing goal of the project is to develop software that can predict how areas will be affected by natural disasters, Govindjee said. This analysis includes how much property may be damaged, where the damage will occur and what threats would be posed to the lives of residents.
Govindjee noted the project also aims to present findings in a manner accessible to politicians, engineers and those designing building codes, allowing them to make informed decisions that will mitigate harm in the event of a disaster.
“People, they live in a built environment,” Govindjee said. “It’s simply for their personal safety to sort of do what they want to do without being in danger of losing their lives. It’s about being able to figure out what’s going to happen so you can do the engineering to make sure people are safe.”
The Natural Hazards Engineering Research is a consortium of experimental research centers around the country, according to Govindjee. These centers mainly use physical models to predict outcomes of disasters. The SimCenter at UC Berkeley provides the computations to design these models more efficiently.
The SimCenter, Govindjee noted, also provides education and training for young researchers interested in learning the engineering and computer science practices associated with the SimCenter’s analyses.
“It’s really a wonderful project,” Govindjee said. “I think it will really have a long-term lasting impact on people’s lives, which is really what we’re trying to do here.”