A Versatile Large Scale Real Time Dynamic Testing Facility
The Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) was created in 1983 and was founded on its’ predecessor, the Structural Engineering Laboratory (SEL) at the University at Buffalo. This new laboratory was equipped with an advanced 5-degree-of-freedom 50 ton capacity shake table. SEESL was the result of the vision of the late Professor. Robert L. Ketter, former University at Buffalo president, and Professor George C. Lee, former dean of the School of Engineering at UB. Under the leadership of the late Professor John Neal, SEESL’s first director, the laboratory was equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and instrumentation supporting structural dynamic research. The structural dynamic testing capability of SEESL helped in fostering the establishment of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research, headquartered at University at Buffalo, in 1986.
During its first fifteen years of it existence, SEESL became the flagship laboratory of the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (NCEER). During that period, with sustained and generous grants for management, operations and maintenance, from NCEER (latter MCEER), the laboratory allowed numerous researchers to conduct advanced research and testing without the burden of additional lab expenses. This innovative approach was later adopted as a model for operations by the NEES program. During this same period, the first experiments in active control devices and systems were performed which became a sustained new field of research and led to the implementation of numerous real world applications in Japan. Moreover, the basic experiments of advanced base isolation, such as Friction Pendulum Systems, basic experiments on passive and semi-active energy dissipation devices, and testing of retrofit solutions for structures made of reinforced concrete or steel, led to many applications and the development of a new field of earthquake resistant design – aseismic protective systems.
In 1996 Professor Michael C. Constantinou assumed the responsibility as the director of SEESL and started a strong-sustained program of service to industry, supporting the research and development efforts of companies such as Taylor Devices, Enidine Corporation, Jarret Corporation, FPS Corporation, DIS Ltd., Watson and Assoc., Moog Corporation, IBM Corporation., and many others, that resulted in the development new products for the protection of structures and sensitive equipment against severe vibrations and seismic effects.
In 1998, with an aging shake table, Professor Michel Bruneau, the deputy director of MCEER, Professor Andrei M. Reinhorn, the chair of the department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering (CSEE), and Professor Constantinou, the director of SEESL, envisioned a plan and laid the groundwork for the development of a new versatile facility that would combine real time testing and computational simulations. In 1999, following a reversal in the roles of Professor’s Reinhorn and Constantinou, and with the assistance of the University at Buffalo’s administration, the team developed the successful proposal which resulted in the year 2001 award of two NSF-Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) grants to expand SEESL with the development and installation of new state-of-the-art equipment housed in a building expansion supported by the SUNY Construction Fund and the University at Buffalo.
In 2004, with the contributions of a large team of expert faculty and technical staff, SEESL completed the $21.2M expansion which added two new relocatable 6-degree-of-freedom 50 ton shake tables, advanced large scale dynamic and static actuators, a geotechnical laminar box, and networked controllers interfaced to a high speed local area network which supported the development and implementation of a unique capability involving integrated physical and computational simulations.
Currently, SEESL hosts testing services for MCEER (as its flagship laboratory), for the NEES initiative, for Industry partners, for CSEE department instructional and research initiatives and any other domestic or international research organization. The combined support for the management, operation, and maintenance of the facility, from the NEES Consortium; from MCEER through its industry partners; and from CSEE (a total of ~$1.8M yearly) allows SEESL to provide for the shared use of this versatile new expanded facility for research and development.