Learning Natural Hazards Simulations at NHERI Lehigh

NHERI REU students learn how engineers use hybrid simulation techniques for designing resilient structures

Published on June 25, 2021


From left, Gustavo Aguilar, Daleen Torres Burgos, and Tyler Rodrigues. (Image: NHERI at Lehigh University)

This summer, three NHERI REU students are spending ten weeks as virtual researchers at Lehigh University’s Real-Time Multi-Directional Experimental Facility.

The students are Daleen Torres Burgos, a senior in civil engineering at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Gustavo Aguilar, a senior in civil engineering at the University of Florida; and Tyler Rodrigues, a senior in structural engineering at UC Berkeley. The students are conducting their research under the direction of Professor James Ricles, director of the NHERI Lehigh facility, Dr. Liang Cao, NHERI Lehigh research scientist, and Professor Scott Harvey from the University of Oklahoma, who is at NHERI Lehigh this summer as part of his NSF research project that will utilize the NHERI Lehigh facility.

The three students will become familiar with Lehigh’s RTMD equipment used for real-time hybrid simulation (RTHS), a combined numeric-and-physical testing mode that is ideal for very large structures. Researchers use the RTMD lab to protect buildings against damage from hazards like earthquakes and windstorms like hurricanes.

The students will complete a research project that they’ll present in person at the NHERI REU Research Symposium in August 2021. In addition to their experiences at NHERI Lehigh, the students are part of the STEM-Summer Institutes program, which is a network of interdisciplinary, campus-wide undergraduate researchers at Lehigh that are participating in a series of professional development workshops and seminars.

After a summer at the NHERI at Lehigh facility, our REU students will have a fundamental understanding of experimental techniques like real-time hybrid simulation – and why engineers find this technology is so crucial for designing resilient structures.

Keep up with NHERI’s 2021 REU students on Twitter and Instagram.


Tyler Rodrigues (seated), Daleen Torres Burgos, and Gustavo Aguilar. (Image: NHERI at Lehigh University)

ATLSS Laboratory Operations Manager Darrick Fritchman gives a laboratory tour to STEM-SI students. (Image: NHERI at Lehigh University)