Meet the NCO's Dan Zehner

Published on March 17, 2017

Dan Zehner enjoys woodworking and building custom furniture.


As hazard researchers and site managers gear up for testing, they will come to know Dan Zehner—a key member of the NHERI NCO team headquartered at Purdue University.  Here's a brief introduction, in his own words.


Q: What is your job title and primary role with NHERI?

I'm the Facility Scheduling and Operations Coordinator (FSOC for short).  I work with researchers who want to use NHERI facilities to get their projects scheduled, update the public schedule, and work with the NCO director to prepare our reports to the NSF.

When my mom asks what I do, I tell her I help people a lot smarter than me do some great work researching how to keep natural hazards from becoming natural disasters.

Q: What is the most surprising thing you've discovered since you started working at the NHERI NCO?

I've discovered I really like working in a university setting versus the corporate world.  Everyone is focused on the end goal of advancing science, learning and working together.  A lot less drama.

Q: What is your next big project at work?

My next big project is to prepare the annual report to the NSF for the NCO.

Q: Have you ever personally experienced a natural disaster?

I've been through a few, but the ones that really stand out are Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy.  During Sandy, my wife and I knew more of what to expect, but it was a different animal having it combined with a Nor'Easter!  A friend of ours from Illinois was visiting that weekend and got to experience her first hurricane, too.  I'll never forget the sound of the wind pounding the house for hours on end, then the calm of the eye passing right over us, and the roar starting all over again.  Quite surreal.

Q: What was your job prior to NHERI?

Before this I spent two years working at Caterpillar as a validation engineer for large engine programs.  Lots of data analysis!  Prior to that I was a manufacturing engineer for Subaru and a fluid systems engineer for Electric Boat working on submarines for 4.5 years.

Q: What do you enjoy doing after work?

I really enjoy getting out into my shop at home and building custom furniture.  At home, I'm ususally dressed in plaid and covered in sawdust.


Dan Zehner
Facility Scheduling and Operations Coordinator (FSOC)
Network Coordination Office (NCO)