NSF-funded laboratory now offers dedicated shake table and testbeds for researchers in wind, earthquake, and geotechnical engineering fields

The NHERI Lehigh University Experimental Facility recently unveiled expanded lab space and new equipment for conducting cyber-physical experiments. The enlarged facility opens the door wide for natural hazards researchers to explore structural mitigation solutions for windstorms and earthquakes.

Part of the National Science Foundation-funded Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure, the NHERI Lehigh Experimental Facility specializes in cyber-physical testing, a broad term that encompasses hybrid simulation, including real-time, multi-directional hybrid simulation experiments.

More space, more research opportunities

The new Real-time Cyber-Physical Structural Systems testing laboratory, RCPSS, consists of 2,000 additional square feet of lab space, new testbeds, and a multi-directional shake table dedicated to cyber-physical testing.

Cyber-physical tests are ideal for large-scale structures that are impractical—or impossible—to test in a normal laboratory. Now, the expanded NHERI Lehigh Experimental Facility can accommodate more users and a broader range of hybrid testing applications.

The NHERI Lehigh RCPSS features five test beds, each with a dedicated dynamic actuator that can be linked to a multi-directional shake table.

“These dedicated test beds exist independently from, but parallel to, our current laboratory setup,” says Jim Ricles, principal investigator and director of the NHERI Lehigh Experimental Facility. “We can now support additional concurrent users in the NHERI Lehigh Experimental Facility, and we can easily link these new testbeds with our existing setup.”

Pioneering hybrid experimentation

For more than a decade, the team at NHERI’s Lehigh Experimental Facility has trained and supported natural hazards researchers in cyber-physical testing.

"Our facility is unique in the nation. We are one of the few labs in the U.S. dedicated to supporting large-scale, real-time, 3D cyber-physical testing, and we now provide a greater variety of options for researchers,” says Ricles. “For instance, our new multidirectional shake table can realistically emulate twisting motions that structures sometimes demonstrate under extreme 3-D wind loading due to non-uniform wind pressures acting over the façade of the building along with possible vortex shedding. Further, our new shake table can be deployed in quasi-static testing as well as hybrid simulation experiments.”

Read the full press release on the NHERI Lehigh website

visiting researcher

University of Oklahoma graduate researcher assistant Esteban Villalobos Vega deploys NHERI Lehigh’s RCPSS shake table for a study of floor isolation systems. (Image: NHERI Lehigh)

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