Filiatrault Elected MCEER Director

Center research will focus on multi-hazard resilience

Release Date: October 14, 2008 This content is archived.


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Andre Filiatrault has been elected to a two-year term as director of MCEER, a national center of excellence focused on multi-hazard engineering, headquartered at UB.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Andre Filiatrault, Ph.D., Eng., a professor at the University at Buffalo and leading expert on shake-table testing of structural and nonstructural building components, has been elected to a two-year term as director of MCEER, a national center of excellence focused on multi-hazard engineering, headquartered at UB. MCEER is dedicated to the discovery and development of new knowledge, tools and technologies to make communities and infrastructure more resilient in the face of extreme events.

Filiatrault, professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was elected to the post by the newly instituted MCEER Management Council, principally comprising university faculty colleagues that lead MCEER research programs.

"I am excited and pleased that Andre Filiatrault has accepted the position of MCEER director," said Harvey G. Stenger, Jr., Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB. "He is one of our most outstanding structural engineering faculty members, with an international reputation in his field. The future of MCEER is strong and even more so under his leadership."

Filiatrault served as deputy director of MCEER. He succeeds Michel Bruneau, Ph.D., P.Eng., UB professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, who stepped down from his MCEER post at the end of August.

Since 2007, Filiatrault has served as director of UB's Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL), a state-of-the- art facility that is home to twin, movable shake tables capable of real-time seismic testing of structures up to 120 feet in length. The facility is part of the National Science Foundation's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a nationwide "collaboratory" for earthquake engineers and students.

"In directing SEESL and in leading numerous high-profile research projects with internal and external partners in academia and industry, Andre Filiatrault has continually demonstrated a strong, collaborative spirit," said A. Scott Weber, Ph.D., chair of the UB Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. "His ability to direct and leverage the expertise of a wide variety of researchers from diverse fields will ensure MCEER's progress as it expands and refines its multi-hazard mission."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, MCEER has been applying its expertise to a broad range of natural and manmade hazards from earthquake engineering to extreme events, in close cooperation with the UB 2020 strategic strength in "Extreme Events: Mitigation and Response."

"MCEER is now using its legacy in pioneering earthquake engineering solutions in order to develop multi-hazard and multi-institutional solutions for the nation and for the State of New York," said Filiatrault. "As the nation turns to renewing its infrastructure, it is critical for communities to harden that infrastructure and make it more resilient against potential hazards. Many technologies that MCEER has developed for earthquake engineering applications are applicable to other hazards as well.

"Through the vision and leadership of its past directors, George Lee and Michel Bruneau, MCEER has redefined the field of multiple hazard engineering through the concept of disaster resilience," Filiatrault said.

Using that concept as its foundation, he said that MCEER's research plan will revolve around three complementary research thrusts: infrastructure systems and public policy; sustainable and resilient buildings and innovative technologies.

At the same time, he said, MCEER will continue to serve the earthquake engineering community, conducting high-quality, problem-focused research, collaborating with academic and business, industry and government partners and sponsors, and providing education and outreach to advance technology transfer.

Current MCEER projects include the multi-year Federal Highway Administration project on seismic bridge design led by George Lee, a three-year project led by UB professor Andrei Reinhorn to enhance the resilience of electrical power systems during earthquakes funded by the California Energy Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon, and numerous strategic alliances with external partners.

MCEER continues to deploy reconnaissance teams to disaster-stricken areas. Most recently, it was funded by the NSF to focus on the emergency preparedness of hospitals following Hurricane Gustav.

Filiatrault received an Outstanding Researcher/Scholar Award from the Research Foundation of the State University of New York this year, in recognition of the contributions he has made to his field, including inventions and significant honors he has received from his peers.

He has contributed significantly to UB's outstanding reputation in the field of earthquake engineering research through his work on the design of seismic-resistant steel and wood structures, the development of novel methods for energy dissipation and self-centering of structures, and, most recently, for his advanced mechanistic understanding of nonstructural component failure.

He has served in leadership positions on two key projects aimed at making wood-frame structures safer in earthquakes: the CUREE-Caltech FEMA-funded Wood Frame Project and, more recently, the NSF-funded NEESWood project. Conducted at UB in 2006, NEESWood was featured in numerous leading broadcast and print media, bringing worldwide recognition to UB. Early next year, he will travel to Miki City, Japan, home of the world's largest shake table, where he will be involved in directing the final stage of NEESWood, with the validation of new design processes, developed in part as a result of the UB experiments.

In recent years, with colleagues at UB and MCEER, Filiatrault has developed the world's first test apparatus specifically designed to subject costly equipment and mechanical systems in hospitals and other important structures to the precise floor vibrations that they experience during the strongest earthquakes. The pioneering research is helping critical-care facilities, especially in California, comply with legislation that will require them to remain fully functional after earthquakes.

Filiatrault has published widely in top peer-reviewed journals. An active advisor of graduate students, he was named 2007 Professor of the Year in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.

His full-scale dynamic tests on a variety of structural and nonstructural systems and components over the past 20 years have led to improved seismic design standards.

Filiatrault has led or has been a member of several earthquake reconnaissance teams, including those that investigated the Nisqually Valley earthquake in Washington in 2001, the Loma Prieta and Northridge, Calif., earthquakes in 1989 and 1994, respectively, and the Kobe, Japan, earthquake in 1995. He also has organized UB and MCEER reconnaissance teams to investigate damage in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina and again this year following Hurricane Gustav.

Filiatrault is a recipient of the Moisseiff Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Gzowksi Medal from the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. He has published numerous papers in scientific journals and is author of two textbooks: "Elements of Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics" and "Principles of Supplemental Damping and Seismic Isolation."

He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, and a master's degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

He also is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is a registered professional engineer in the province of Quebec, Canada.

Filiatrault resides with his family in Clarence.

Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research headquartered at the University at Buffalo is a national center of excellence in advanced technology applications dedicated to reducing losses from earthquake and other hazards nationwide. One of three such centers in the nation established by the National Science Foundation, MCEER has been funded principally over the past two decades, with more than $67 million from NSF; more than $47 million from the State of New York and more than $34 million from the Federal Highway Administration. Additional support comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other state governments, academic institutions, foreign governments and private industry.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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