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New earthquake engineering lab opens at UNR

RENO, Nev. -- UNR held a grand opening Tuesday for their new earthquake engineering laboratory, and the facility is helping put the campus on the map.

The lab's mission is all about safety standards for the public. "This just represents a major leap forward in the capacity of this university to provide safely engineering for bridges, highways, and components of buildings to resist earthquakes," said UNR President Marc Johnson.

The $19 million expansion project allows the university to conduct a broader range of experiment, which officials say will grow their research. "This is going to allow us to expand beyond what we've been doing in the past into doing building work," said Lab Director Dr. Ian Buckle. "Many of our work in the past have been bridge work, but we're going to get into work of doing buildings."

The new lab includes four shake tables that perform different simulated ground motions, and it is one of a kind. "This facility becomes the most versatile, earthquake testing facility in the United States," said Johnson.

Buckle also says the new lab will benefit old buildings across the country. Many cities in the United States have this problem, a lot of existing building inventory is not earthquake safe. We need to figure out ways to retrofit those buildings and make them safe, in an economic way."

The building is already being used, with several small experiments accomplished and a teaching laboratory is being built in the basement for graduate and undergraduate students. The lab was mainly funded by a $12.2 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.