2020 NHERI Research Experience
for Undergraduates (REU)


We are excited to bring research opportunities at ten multi-hazard engineering equipment sites during a 10-week summer research program.  The NHERI Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) is dedicated to helping undergraduate college students experience multi-hazard (earthquake, wind, tsunamis, and coastal) engineering as well as reconnaissance, cyber infrastructure, simulation, and data management with a hands-on, research-based project that will introduce participants to a network of engineers, scientists, and students working to mitigate the effects of natural hazards.  For more information about the REU program please see the page or contact us at nheri-reu@utsa.edu.

This completed application and the letters of recommendation from two references are due by March 9, 2020 at 11:59pm Central Time.  Notification of decisions will be sent by the end of March, 2020 to the email address provided in this application.

Important: It is the responsibility of each student applying to inform their two recommenders of the recommendation submission deadline and ask them to complete it by this date.



Applicant Information

Please provide full first name, middle name (if applicable), and last name. Then, in the following fields please provide a valid US mailing address and other forms of contact by which the REU program may reach you and answer questions about your citizenship or military status.

If this is a mobile number capable of receiving text messages, you can elect to receive messages from the REU program.

*** Please note that only US Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible to receive funding from the National Science Foundation. (See https://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/ for more information.)

Have you ever served on active duty in any branch of the United States military? If so, under what conditions were you discharged?

Higher Education


It is important for you to secure commitment from two individuals who know your academic abilities and work ethic. At least one recommender must be a college/university faculty member. You may also include at letter of recommendation from your academic advisor. Please complete the information below for two individuals who will each need to provide a letter of recommendation and complete the recommendation form. After submitting this application, be sure that each recommender submits their letter of recommendation electronically by the required deadline (extended): March 9, 2020, at 11:59pm Central Time. It is your responsibility to ask them to complete the recommendation form by the deadline.

Please describe how you know this reference.

Please describe how you know this reference.

Program Selection and Availability

The summer research program accommodates ten universities that have different academic schedules. For this reason, two 10-week program blocks have been set. Please select the program date(s) that your schedule permits. If you are available for both blocks, please select both. Otherwise, only select the block which you are available to participate.

Block 1: May 27 - August 4, 2020

  • Florida International University
  • Lehigh University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas, Austin
    • Mobile shakers program
    • Cyberinfrastructure

Block 2: June 15 - August 21, 2020

  • Oregon State University
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Washington

Please use the following box to list any special accommodations or conditions on availability you may require.

After carefully reviewing the following descriptions of each Experimental Facility participating in the REU program, please rank how interested you are in participating with each on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being highly interested and 5 being highly uninterested. Then you will be asked to provide a brief description of why you chose to rate them in this way.

Florida International University – Wall of Wind International Hurricane Research Center

The NHERI Wall of Wind (WOW) Experimental Facility (EF) at Florida International University (FIU) was funded by NSF to be a national facility that enables researchers to better understand wind effects on civil infrastructure systems and prevent wind hazards from becoming community disasters. The WOW EF is powered by a combined 12-fan system capable of repeatable testing in up to 157 mph wind speeds through its flow management system. The unique advantage of the WOW EF is multi-scale (full-scale to 1:400) and high Reynolds number simulation of the effects of wind and wind driven rain. This is accomplished using the twelve fans and a water spray system. In addition, the 16,000 sq ft. fenced-off secure area enables researchers to perform destructive tests up to category 5 Hurricane wind speeds. The NHERI WOW EF offers users a wide range of equipment, instrumentation and experimental simulation protocols as well as a distinguished group of faculty staff and a well-trained team of technical and operations staff which allow for delivering world-class research.

The NHERI WOW EF provides the following experimental capabilities:

  • High-speed holistic testing at multiple scales in simulated hurricane wind speeds up to and including Category 5 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale
  • Wind-driven rain simulations to study water intrusion
  • Full- and large-scale aerodynamic/aero elastic testing in atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) flows at high Reynolds numbers
  • Conventional boundary layer wind tunnel testing in flows with various exposures and with full turbulence spectrum
  • Testing under extreme environments to develop innovative mitigation devices
  • Destructive tests to study failure modes.

Visit fiu.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the Wall of Wind Experimental Facility.

Lehigh University – NHERI Lehigh Real-Time Multi-Directional Experimental Facility

The NHERI Lehigh Real-Time Multi-Directional (RTMD) Experimental Facility (EF) was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be a world-class, open-access facility that enables researchers to address key research questions associated with the challenge of community resilience. The NHERI Lehigh EF has a unique portfolio of equipment, instrumentation, infrastructure, testbeds, experimental simulation control protocols, and large-scale simulation and testing experience and know-how that does not exist elsewhere in the United States. The unique strength of the NHERI Lehigh EF is accurate, large-scale, multi-degree-of-freedom and multi-directional simulations of the effects of natural hazard events on civil infrastructure systems (i.e., buildings, bridges, industrial facilities, etc.) with potential soil-foundation effects.

The types of laboratory simulations and tests enabled by the Lehigh EF include:

  1. Hybrid simulation (HS) which combines large-scale physical models with computer-based numerical simulation models
  2. Geographically distributed hybrid simulation (DHS) which is a HS with physical models and/or numerical simulation models located at different sites
  3. Real-time hybrid earthquake simulation (RTHS) which is a HS conducted at the actual time scale of the physical models
  4. Geographically distributed real-time hybrid earthquake simulation which combines DHS and RTHS
  5. Dynamic testing (DT) which loads large-scale physical models at real-time scales through predefined load histories
  6. Quasi-static testing (QS) which loads large-scale physical models at slow rates through predefined load histories

Visit lehigh.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the NHERI Lehigh Facility.

Oregon State University – O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory

The O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory (HWRL), established at Oregon State University in 1972, is a state-of-the-art coastal engineering research and education center with two specialized large-scale resources for physical model testing of coastal systems subject to the action of tsunamis created by earthquakes and storm surge and waves created by wind storms. OSU was awarded an NSF grant to establish the Tsunami Experimental Facility at the HWRL as part of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) program from 2000 to 2004, and operated the NEES Tsunami Facility from 2004 to 2014. Over the past 10 years, the HWRL received several major upgrades, including state-of the art instrumentation, a large-stroke piston-type wavemaker, and over 5,000 sq ft of new office and meeting space for staff and visiting researchers.

The NHERI Experimental Facility at Oregon State University, known as the NHERI Coastal Wave/Surge and Tsunami (NHERI CWST-EF), consist of two main resources to support a wide base of users: the Large Wave Flume (LWF) and the Directional Wave Basin (DWB). Both the flume and basin are capable of generating wind waves and tsunamis. The flume is a two-dimensional representation of the coast (looking directly out to sea), eliminating the complexity of longshore currents and wave direction and allowing a cross-section of test specimens to be studied at a large scale. The directional wave basin (DWB) increases the system complexity to three dimensions by extending laterally. In addition to these two resources, the Experimental Facility provides standard and state-of-the-art instrumentation to assess wave conditions, velocity, and response variables such as stress, strain, load and sediment transport (scour and erosion).

The CWST-EF at Oregon State University supports the overall vision of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program to increase the resilience of civil infrastructure and communities to coastal storms and tsunamis. Hurricanes and other coastal windstorms are extreme hazards with elevated surge and waves, high winds, and intense rains that threaten near-coast structures and critical lifelines such as bridges, roads, power and communication, and water supplies. Tsunamis can be triggered by seismic events, including fault displacement and landslides, and also represent extreme hazards with rapid inundation and damage. An additional challenge related to tsunami waves is the relative short time for advanced warning and evacuation strategies, not to mention the scarcity of tsunami events and unfeasibility to predict an earthquake.

Visit oregonstate.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory

Univeristy of California, Berkeley – Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (NHERI SimCenter)

Do you want to work on software that helps scientists understand how earthquakes, tsunami, and hurricanes affect cities, helps engineers design better buildings and bridges, and/or helps cities plan for natural hazards? The SimCenter is looking for multi-disciplinary teams of students (CS, civil engineers, city planners, and social scientists) to participate in the development, testing, and demonstration of our Applications Framework. Join us at the SimCenter this summer and apply your programming skills (we’re here to help you) to work on a specialized and challenging project. While in the Bay Area, you’ll be working with experts in software development and modeling to expand the computational tools and educational resources required to mitigate the effects of earthquakes, tsunami, hurricanes, and other natural hazards on the built environment.

The SimCenter develops software and advances computer simulation as part of the NHERI program. We’re writing new code to streamline and enhance simulation capabilities that integrates exiting applications to move beyond loading scenarios of an individual building to enable simulation of entire regions to multiple natural hazards. SimCenter software also addresses community risk by estimating the damage sustained by these structures and the cost and time required for repair. Ultimately, the SimCenter software framework will enable engineers, and students like you, to develop better models that account for uncertainty quantification and learn about the societal impacts that windstorms, earthquakes, and tsunami pose to our cities. To realize this vision of simulation-enabled engineering, the SimCenter is also creating educational modules to teach students modeling techniques and simulation skills; these educational tools will help prepare students for research and professional practice. The SimCenter hosts summer interns to who are interested in conducting simulation-based research. Examples of past REU projects:

  • Regional Hazard Simulation Workflow Adaption
  • Automated Model Validation of the SimCenter Regional Earthquake Workflow
  • Regional Earthquake Simulation in Charleston County, South Carolina
  • Evaluating Policies by Simulating Large Scale Regional Seismic Response
  • Adaption of the PBEE Framework: A building block for community resilience models

UC Berkeley invites you to participate in SimCenter efforts to advance simulation software for engineering applications with the goal of mitigating the effects of natural hazards on the built environment. Help us create apps your classmates will use or improve tools graduate students and faculty are using in their research. Be part of this summer’s team to evaluate and improve models that assess the economic impact of earthquake or hurricane damage.

Visit the SimCenter page for more information.

University of California, Davis – Center or Geotechnical Modeling (CGM)

The NHERI Equipment Facility at UC Davis is housed at the Center for Geotechnical Modeling (CGM). The CGM has a long history of providing users, both national and international, with access to world-class geotechnical centrifuge modeling facilities for research on the performance of soil and soil-structure systems affected by earthquake, wave, wind and storm surge loadings.

Geotechnical centrifuges enable the use of scale models to investigate nonlinear, stress-dependent responses of soil masses that are many times larger than is possible on the world’s largest 1-g shaking tables. The centerpiece of our facility is one of the largest centrifuges equipped with a shaking table in the world, which enables researchers to perform experiments with a holistic-level of complexity that is not possible with smaller scale centrifuges.

The experimental facilities at UC Davis include:

  1. a 9-m radius dynamic geotechnical centrifuge,
  2. a model preparation room for the 9-m radius centrifuge
  3. a 1-m radius dynamic geotechnical centrifuge
  4. a model preparation room for the 1-m radius centrifuge
  5. an electronics and calibration shop
  6. the Geotechnical Modeling Facility building

Visit the CGM website to learn more about the facility's people, history, and vision (cgm.engr.ucdavis.edu).

University of California, San Diego – Large High Performance Outdoor Shake Table (LHPOST)

The NHERI@UC San Diego Experimental Facility provides a large, high performance, outdoor shake table (LHPOST) to support research in structural and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Earthquakes have had considerable destructive effects on society in terms of human casualties, property and infrastructure damage, and economic losses. Building a multi-hazard, disaster-resilient, and sustainable environment requires the understanding and ability to predict more reliably the system-level response of buildings, critical facilities, lifelines, and other civil infrastructure systems to these extreme events. This facility tests extensively instrumented large- or full-scale structural, geotechnical, and soil-foundation-structural systems under extreme earthquake loads to help advance predictive seismic performance tools and to develop effective technologies and policies to prevent these natural hazard events from becoming societal disasters.

The LHPOST is composed of a steel platen that is 12.2 meters long by 7.6 meters wide and has performance characteristics that allow the accurate reproduction of near- and far-field earthquake ground motions. The facility can support testing of large structural, nonstructural, and geotechnical systems up to a weight of 20 MN. Two large soil boxes can be used in conjunction with the shake table to investigate the seismic response of soil-foundation-structural systems. Systems tested at the facility utilize extensive data acquisition and instrumentation capabilities, including a broad array of state-of-the-art sensors and high-definition video cameras, to support detailed monitoring of the system response. This shake table facility can provide the validation tests for retrofit methods, protective systems, the use of new materials, components, systems, and construction methods for disaster-resilient and sustainable civil infrastructure.

Students working at NHERI@UC San Diego will gain hands-on experience with innovative design methods, construction techniques, sensors used to measure structural response, and basic computational modeling strategies. Students will help with the planning, preparation, and/or execution of the large- to full-scale dynamic tests.

Visit ucsd.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the LHPOST facility.

University of Florida – Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory

The University of Florida (UF) Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) Experimental Facility (EF) provides users access to one of the largest and most diverse suite of wind engineering experimental research infrastructure in the world and is housed within the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory. The NHERI UF EF supports transformative wind hazard research through seamless integration of high-performance computing, skilled personnel, a culture of safety and collegiality, and state-of-the-art experimental resources. Located in one facility, the NHERI UF EF enables investigators to characterize loading on and dynamic response of a wide range of infrastructure in a large, reconfigurable boundary layer wind tunnel (BLWT) and conduct full-scale tests on large building systems with equipment capable of ultimate/collapse loads associated with a Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale Category 5 hurricane or an Enhanced Fujita Scale 5 tornado.

Visit ufl.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory.

University of Texas at Austin – Experimental equipment site specializing in dynamic in-situ testing using large-scale mobile shakers

The NHERI@UTexas facility houses five large-scale mobile shakers, often called “shaker trucks,” that are used for dynamic field testing of geotechnical or structural infrastructure. These shaker trucks can be used to determine subsurface soil conditions, to characterize the nonlinear behavior and liquefaction potential of soils that are difficult to sample and test in a lab, and to determine dynamic characteristics of existing bridges and buildings. Students working at NHERI@UTexas will learn how sensors are used to measure soil and structural vibrations for infrastructure and natural hazards engineering applications. Students will help develop computer programs to analyze and visualize vibration data collected from geotechnical and/or structural testing. Students may also work on developing educational tools to demonstrate how mobile shakers can be used to test small-scale structural models. Depending on the scheduling of field testing over the summer, student may assist with the planning, preparation, and/or execution of dynamic tests of infrastructure such as levees, buildings, or bridges.

Visit utexas.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the NHERI@UTexas facility.

University of Texas at Austin (Co-Hosted at Rice University) – NHERI Cyberinfrastructure and Data Management

DesignSafe-ci.org provides a comprehensive environment for experimental, theoretical, and computational engineering and science, providing a place not only to steward data from its creation through archive, but also the workspace to understand, analyze, collaborate and publish that data.

The DesignSafe vision is an integral part of research and discovery, providing researchers access to cloud-based tools that support their work to analyze, visualize, and integrate diverse data types. DesignSafe will provides a flexible data repository with straightforward mechanisms for data/metadata upload and enables the next generation of research discovery through a cloud-based interface that allows data analysis and visualization tools to work directly on data stored in the data repository. These functionalities allow researchers to use the cyberinfrastructure to interact with their data in the cloud, bypassing time-consuming downloads/uploads. Software encompasses both data analytics and visualization tools (e.g. MATLAB, ParaView) as well as computational simulation tools (e.g. OpenSees, ABAQUS, ADCIRC, OpenFOAM).

Students that join the DesignSafe team this summer will work with hazards engineering researchers at Rice University in Houston, TX for the majority of the REU. During week two of the program, student will receive training on-site at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin. There they will conduct projects that focus on leveraging computational technologies to help support hazard engineering research. Students will work on projects that focus on multi-hazard risk assessment of infrastructure (e.g. bridges, roadways, and petrochemical facilities) that use and advance DesignSafe cyberinfrastructure tools. In addition to working directly with civil engineering researchers, students will receive ongoing mentoring from staff at TACC on high performance computing, cloud-based data analytics and visualization. This unique experience will offer insight into how expertise in civil engineering and computer science can shape the future of hazards engineering research.

Visit the cyberinfrastructure page for more information.

University of Washington – Rapid Response Research Facility (RAPID)

The NSF-sponsored UW RAPID facility provides researchers with equipment, software, and support services needed to collect, process, and analyze perishable data from natural hazards events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, landslides and wildfires. Facility equipment includes laser (lidar) scanners, surveying equipment, a Street View system, unmanned aerial vehicles with digital cameras and/or lidar units, accelerometers, and seismometers for ground investigation as well as software (Leica and Maptek geomatics software, Pix4D and Agisoft Photoscan software) to support data processing. Data collected and processed using RAPID equipment and software enable characterization of civil infrastructure performance under natural hazard loads, evaluation of the effectiveness of current and previous design methodologies, and understanding of socio-economic dynamics related to disasters.

Students that join the RAPID facility for the summer will participate in the following activities:

  1. Develop field operation guides for RAPID Equipment. REUs will help staff investigate settings and features of RAPID equipment and associated data processing software to develop best practices for field data collection and develop field operation guides that can be provided to RAPID equipment users via RApp, the RAPID facility field data collection tool.
  2. Develop data processing protocols for RAPID users. REUs will learn how to use data processing software and then analyze and assess data products produced using RAPID instrumentation. Ultimately, REUs will help develop data processing workflows that produce high-quality datasets for specific use-case scenarios.
  3. Working with a specific field data set collected by RAPID staff or others, use these data to advance understanding of infrastructure response to natural hazard events as well as to advance understanding of how post-event data can effectively be used to advance natural hazard engineering.

Visit rapid.designsafe-ci.org for more information on the RAPID program.

Please select the top five sites that you are interested in working with. Consider your availability for the summer:

Coursework and Skills

Please provide a list of the Engineering, Math, and Computer Science courses you have completed or plan to complete by June 2020. Also indicate all the areas of study these courses have covered.

Please select all the skills you have experience with including computer programming languages, or other special skills you possess. Use the provided area after the list for any additional skills or to elaborate on your experience.

Please select all the skills, computing proficiencies, or other special proficiencies you wish to obtain through the summer research program. Use the provided area after the list for any additional skills you desire to gain from the program not listed.

Essay Questions

These essay questions give you a chance to briefly differentiate yourself from other applicants through your unique experiences.

Please provide a brief statement (500 words or less) describing your academic and career goals and how your NHERI REU experience might benefit these goals. Why is this work important to you?

Briefly describe (300 words or less) how your skills, education, and work experience to date have prepared you to intern in an engineering laboratory.

Briefly describe (300 words or less) what you do outside of school. Include any volunteer work, work for pay, extracurricular activities, or clubs in which you are a member or leader.

Have you participated in an REU program or other formal undergraduate research experience outside of the classroom?

Additional Materials

You may attach a file with additional materials for the REU selection committee's consideration such as academic transcripts or research papers. You may only attach one file. If you have multiple files, please combine them first into a ZIP archive.

Background Information

This demographics section will help the REU program learn more about the applicants. Please fill out the information to the best of your ability and level of comfort. Please select the category or categories to which you most closely identify.

The remaining questions pertain to the household in which you were raised and the higher education history of the members of this household.

Do you have any siblings, and if so what is the highest level of education among all of your siblings?

What is the highest level of education you plan to receive?