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Strong Future for PEER Announced at Annual Meeting

Reflecting NSF's vision that "competitiveness is 'key' for the future," PEER director Jack Moehle emphasized his center's commitment to continue as a national research center with funding from the federal government, State of California, and private industry. Partnership with industry will be a key element for PEER beyond its tenth and final year of funding by the NSF. Speaking before nearly 200 attendees at PEER's Annual Meeting, held Jan. 19-20 at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, a panel of Moehle, Tom Shantz of Caltrans, Jacqueline Meszaros of NSF, and in-coming EERI President Thalia Anagnos of San Jose State University, addressed the value of PEER's accomplishments and need for the center to continue its operation well into the future.

According to NSF's Meszaros, PEER "transformed the culture" of how an NSF center functioned and operated, and performed well beyond its expectations. "PEER gleaned so much from collaboration with other universities, including student interaction with a worldwide research community, by sharing labs and research findings. PEER brings a dialogue between practitioners and researchers, applicable to problems that need to be solved." One significant end result of PEER's efforts, she added, is the transition of PEER-supported education programs to community-supported programs.

Tom Shantz emphasized that "Caltrans's support for PEER will continue to be strong, extending through 2010," and it is likely that other DOTs will participate, given the transformation to LRFD design. He added that there is increased support by Caltrans on the structural/geotech side and growing support for PEER's research specializations. "Working with PEER," he said, "is superior to CalTrans's hiring of separate individuals to acquire the latest research findings."

Jack Moehle also noted PEER's commitment to collaboration with other research organizations such as SCEC, and discussed their combined efforts in nuclear powerplant engineering, OpenSees and Open Seismic Hazard projects, and international collaboration. The hope is for both centers to grow together and sustain research in key areas related to earthquake engineering.

posted February, 2007