Earthquake research experiments are conducted in this facility in which model structures of buildings, bridges, etc. are set up and subjected to forces simulating earthquakes. This particular facility contains one of only eleven earthquake simulators in the world and is unique because of its dual shake table capabilities.
The Civil Engineering department was created in 1958. That fall, Robert L. Ketter (1928-1989) joined the faculty as the first head of the department. He was later to become dean of the Graduate School, vice president for Facilities Planning. Ketter Hall would be dedicated to President Ketter in August of 1987. In naming the building after him, also UB president from 1970 to 1982, an exception was made to the rule to not name campus buildings after living individuals. President Ketter was a noted engineer who oversaw construction of the North Campus during his tenure as president. He also strengthened research programs and initiated international programs in Korea, Japan and China. Earlier, he had served the university as first chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, dean of the Graduate School and vice president for facilities planning. He was also a founder and the first director of MCEER (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research).