``Bridge Research and Information Center (BRIC) at the University of Nevada, Reno''
Prof. M. Saiid Saiidi and E. Manos Maragakis
University of Nevada, Reno, Civil Engineering Department
Reno, NV 89557
E-mail: saiidi@unr.edu


The deterioration and obsolescence of highway bridges is a very important component of the major infrastructure problem that the nation is facing today. At the present time nearly 40 percent of the bridges in the United States are either structurally deficient or obsolete. They need to be repaired, retrofitted, or replaced in many cases. At the same time, many recent earthquakes have, once more, reiterated the vulnerability of highway bridges to earthquake loadings. They have also reemphasized the necessity of continuing research and implementing the results related to effective seismic strengthening and earthquake resistant design of new bridges.

In recent years, extensive research has been performed on many aspects of bridge engineering both in the US and abroad. Some of these aspects include seismic design and retrofitting, a variety of analytical studies, development of non-destructive evaluation techniques, use of new materials and construction types, etc. It is becoming increasingly evident that a multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to address many of the problems. The wide variety of the research, along with its global scatter and the fact that it crosses several disciplines, make it necessary to have a mechanism for an effective dissemination of information on both past and current research, as well as on documented needs for new research. At the same time, significant technological advancements are available today for the dissemination, storage and presentation of information (Internet, CD ROM, magnetic tape, etc). This technology should be widely used for the dissemination of information on advancements in bridge engineering. It is also very important that a major national and international cooperative effort be established among bridge researchers in order to exchange information on research and design practices and to try to establish common research strategies. The proper dissemination of information along with the establishment of cooperative research efforts, will facilitate the identification of the most important research problems, will enhance the quality of research and will increase its efficiency by avoiding unnecessary duplication.


A five-year project was awarded by the National Science Foundation to the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), in 1997. The main objective of the project is the establishment of a Bridge Research and Information Center (BRIC) in the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Nevada, Reno, with the following goals:

  1. To establish complete collection of information on past, current, and future research on a wide variety of topics on bridge engineering.
  2. To use the latest computer technology for the processing and storage of the information and its dissemination to bridge researchers, engineers, consultants, companies as well as institutions, libraries and other similar organizations all over the world.
  3. To provide on line video access of highlights of major tests and experimental data.
  4. To continuously expand the center activities and to respond to users' requests by making adjustments and modifications to serve their needs.
As the first step, the job description for a full-time manager for the center was developed. The position was advertized and appropriate candidates were interviewed. A candidate has been selected and is due to assume the position in mid May, 1998. Among the initial tasks to be performed by the Center Manager will be the development of scope of the networking activities and the establishment a core user profile. Another key task will be the development of a plan and specifications for hardware and software acquisition, as well as milestones to monitor and assess the center's progress towards its goal.

Link with National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research

The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), is one of the research institutions involved in the recently funded earthquake engineering center at the State University of New York in Buffalo (NCEER). One of the components of UNR activities related to NCEER is facilities and information networking. Because the focus of the earthquake engineering group at UNR has been on bridge structures, it is foreseen that BRIC will collect and disseminate bridge- and life line-related research and information elements including the educational component of earthquake engineering.

Contribution to National Earthquake Engineering Facilities Network

It has been a strong desire of the National Science Foundation and other research funding agencies to see researchers share testing facilities and research information in on efficient and streamlined basis. One of the major components of BRIC activities will be to facilitate networking of research data and facilities. BRIC will lead an effort to develop a standardized data collection protocol to simplify the exchange of information. Guidelines will be developed regarding instrumentation, format for data storage, and data types to be collected and made available to researchers and engineers. Initial demonstration projects will include video tapes that will be available on the Web showing reinforced concrete bridge columns and pipelines tested on large-capacity shake tables recently installed at UNR. A bridge column shake-table testing video recorded on May 7, 1998, is currently being processed for viewing on the Web.