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NEESgrid Delivers the 'MOST'

released 07.22.03

CHAMPAIGN, IL† — On July 30, the NEESgrid project will demonstrate how grid services will further earthquake research with an earthquake engineering test that researchers quip is "so big it takes two time zones."

The multi-site online simulation test, or MOST, will span a thousand miles to connect three sites: the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), which is responsible for designing and creating the NEESgrid infrastructure; the MUST-SIM at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

NEESgrid's goal is to link earthquake researchers across the United Statesóparticipants in the NSF-funded George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES)ówith leading-edge computing resources and research equipment, allowing researchers to collaborate on experiments and share resources. MOST is a demonstration of the full-system prototype of the NEESgrid, showcasing the capabilities and features of the advanced network through a real-science application.

"This is an advance look at how earthquake engineers will routinely conduct research in the future," said Dan Reed, NCSA director. "NEESgrid is much more than another fast network. It is an online collaboratory; a means for scientists across the country to participate in experiments, even if the experimental equipment is located more than a thousand mile away."

Details about the MOST experiment and access to NEESgrid telepresence capabilities will be available at MOST will begin at 11 a.m. Central time at NCSA and UIUC and at 10 a.m. Mountain time at the University of Colorado.

The three sites will collaborate to examine the effects of force on a one-story, two-bay frame, like one from the interior of a multistory building. The experiment focuses on a specific joint within the structure.

"In general we can model the global behavior of structures such as buildings and bridges fairly well, but damage is a local phenomenon that can be difficult to understand," explained Bill Spencer, a professor of civil engineering and the co-principal investigator of the NSF-funded MUST-SIM (multi-axial full-scale sub-structuring testing and simulation facility) at UIUC. "We're employing a hybrid testing technique in which a computational model representing the well-understood parts of the structure is combined with full-scale testing of the critical structural elements to learn about this localized behavior."

While NCSA simulates the effects of force on the structure with a computational model, specific parts of the structure will be subjected to force at MUST-SIM and at the University of Colorado site, the Hybrid Test Platform for the Seismic Performance Evaluation of Structural Systems. Data from each site will flow to the other two.

For MOST, the response of the structure is designed to remain in the elastic range. "We wanted to do a problem that we knew the answer to," Spencer said, "but that still had all the features of a real experiment." Experiments like these are used to understand how earthquakes damage structures and how homes and businesses can be built to withstand an earthquake's force.

NEESgrid allows researchers to take advantage of the strengths of various sites to create a virtual laboratory, and MOST will showcase the full range of NEESgrid services, including:

  • Core grid services: ensuring security and managing resources as information is exchanged among the sites

  • Data management services: generating metadata and transferring data to and from repositories

  • Telepresence services: exchanging control and status information between sites, observing the experiment and capturing data from a remote site, and controlling the experiment from a remote site

  • Computation and simulation services: enabling access to computer resources and simulation software

Along with NCSA, the other institutions participating in the creation of the NEESgrid are Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Michigan, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Southern California, and USC/Information Science Institute.

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) is a national high-performance computing center that develops and deploys cutting-edge computing, networking and information technologies. Located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, NCSA is funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional support comes from the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, private sector partners and other federal agencies. For more information, see

Members of the media who would like to attend the UIUC or NCSA portions of the simulation should contact Trish Barker, NCSA public information specialist, at 217-265.8013 or For information about the Colorado experiment, contact P. Benson Shing, professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, at

Trish Barker
NCSA Public Information Specialist


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