MEDIA INVITED: Great Shakeout Lab Tour

January 30, 2013  

WHAT: Purdue University invites journalists, photographers and videographers to tour its earthquake engineering research facilities and witness demonstrations to prepare stories for the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill planned for the Midwest.

WHEN: The tour is 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday (Feb. 6), the day before the Great ShakeOut.

WHERE: Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research, located southeast of campus at 1040 South River Road.

The 66,000-square-foot building is specially designed to accommodate research on buildings, tunnels, water and sewage treatment systems, bridge sub-assemblies, columns, and beams up to five stories tall and the length of a football field. Earthquakes, high winds, blasts and other disasters are simulated using a variety of large-scale actuation

Bowen lab

Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research
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equipment. Shake tables of various sizes are used to simulate the effects of earthquakes on structures and develop mitigation strategies.

Thanks to the research at Bowen, engineers better understand the behavior of infrastructure systems, develop new approaches for rehabilitation and new construction, and verify models and designs.

They also develop and demonstrate the IT systems - fiber and cyber - that connect data and researchers across the country through the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). NEES links 14 large-scale laboratories across the country connected by a national web of computers, servers and telecommunications equipment feeding into NEEShub.

The hub is powered by HUBzero software developed at Purdue specifically to help the scientific community share resources and collaborate. The cyberinfrastructure, connected via Internet2, provides interactive simulation tools, a simulation tool development area, a curated central data repository, animated presentations, user support, telepresence, a mechanism for uploading and sharing resources and statistics about users, and usage patterns. The IT tools developed are shared open-source with the international community.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, the NEES operation is headquartered at Purdue.

WHO: Shirley Dyke, a Purdue professor of mechanical and civil engineering who conducts research using the Bowen facility, will guide the tour.

WHY: Feb. 7 is the 201st anniversary of the 1812 New Madrid (MAD'-rihd) earthquakes. Indiana and Illinois are among nine states located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri. This zone is one of the nation's most potentially destructive seismically active areas. The human and economic cost of an event in an urban area within this zone would be catastrophic.

Bowen Lab exterior

Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory
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The four earthquakes that struck New Madrid in 1812 were among the most powerful to strike the United States in recorded history, and temporarily reversed the flow of the Mississippi River. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is conducting drills across the zone's area.

HOW: To reserve your spot, contact Jeanne Norberg at 765-491-1460, Ample parking is available at the building. For safety reasons, long pants or slacks as well as closed-toe shoes must be worn.

INDIANAPOLIS ANGLE: The lab's namesake, Robert Bowen, founded Bowen Engineering Corp. in Fishers, Ind., which specializes in municipal, utility, industrial and environmental construction. Bowen and his wife, Terry, who live in Indianapolis, provided a gift of $3.25 million toward the $11 million lab.

CONSUMER ANGLE: Research in the NEES labs will have direct applications in designing structures and materials that are better able to withstand severe dynamic hazards such as earthquakes.

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