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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center?
The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) is a multidisciplinary research and education center with headquarters at the University of California, Berkeley. PEER was founded in 1997 under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center Program as part of NSF's program to reduce losses due to earthquakes through the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). The Federal Government, the State of California and private industry provide funding for the Center. Investigators from many universities and several consulting companies conduct research in earthquake-related geohazard assessment, geotechnical and structural engineering, risk management, and public policy. PEER involves key stakeholders and funding agencies in its programs through its Business and Industry Partner Program and a variety of research and outreach programs.
What is earthquake engineering? How is it related to seismology?
Earthquake engineering is a multidisciplinary field of science and engineering that identifies and solves problems associated with occurrence of earthquakes, with the goal of reducing seismic risks to socio-economically acceptable levels. For example, earthquake engineers design buildings, transportation systems, and power systems to be earthquake-resistant. Earthquake engineers evaluate older existing construction and devise ways of strengthening vulnerable construction. In contrast, seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes (where, how often do they occur, what magnitudes are to be expected) and the propagation of earthquake waves through the earth.
Does PEER continue its operation after the initial 10-year funding by the National Science Foundation?
Yes. PEER continues, and plans to expand, its research activities with the existing and new funding from the US Federal government, State of California, and private industry.
What university academic programs teach earthquake engineering?
Earthquake engineering is taught in many (but not all) Civil Engineering programs. All the PEER core universities provide excellent education and research programs in earthquake engineering. Earthquake engineering may be taught at the undergraduate level, and becomes a focus of study in the graduate programs.
Does PEER provide consulting services?
No. PEER is a research and education center. Many PEER faculty members and technical staff provide professional engineering services acting as private consultants. Interested parties are welcome to contact individuals to inquire about interests for specific consulting activities.
What can I as a homeowner do to be more prepared for the next earthquake?
Homeowners can take action to seismically strengthen their home, reduce damage to contents, and be personally prepared for future earthquakes. Good advice on getting prepared can be found at
How can I get involved in the PEER Center?
Government agencies, businesses, and practicing professionals can get involved in a number of ways. PEER has a large number of funding agencies, and is always open to consider new funding opportunities for earthquake engineering research, education, or technology transfer efforts. PEER also welcomes involvement of practicing professionals and other stakeholders in the results of earthquake safety measures, who can work with PEER through the Business and Industry Partner Program. Faculty interested in PEER's research activities should contact the PEER Director or Associate Director for more information. Students interested in research or educational programs should contact the PEER Education Director.
I am not part of PEER's "core universities"; can I get involved in PEER?
PEER collaborates with any individual or organization, if there is a mutual research interest in earthquake engineering, and if funding resources allows us to collaborate. Please contact PEER Director or Associate Director to explore possibility of collaboration.