RENO — The University of Nevada, Reno has been awarded $12.2 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, administrators announced Wednesday. This will fund the major portion of an expansion of the world-renowned earthquake engineering lab where, for 25 years, researchers have conducted experiments building and testing large-scale structures and bridges to advance seismic safety.
The expanded facility will house the largest and most versatile earthquake simulation laboratory in the United States. The $18 million project also received funds from the Department of Energy in 2009 to finance the initial phase of construction of the 23,000-square-foot project, scheduled to begin in October. When completed, the combined area of the new and existing facilities will exceed 30,000 square feet.
The university was one of only five institutions from more than 100 applicants nationwide that received grant money from the NIST Construction Grants Program.
The expanded facility will house the university’s four large 14-by-14-foot, 50-ton-capacity shake tables that are capable of replicating, through computer software and massive hydraulically-operated actuators, any recorded earthquake.
The facility supports itself financially. In the past 10 years, major research grants and contracts acquired by the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research totaled $38.5 million.
The project is expected to be complete in 2013.