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Elemental forces

Engineers strive to improve materials and structures to shelter us from all the elements: earthquakes, droughts, strong winds, walls of water, fires and whatever fierce combinations come our way.

High-IQ infrastructure

Building materials imbued with new properties, such as smart concrete, can help engineers troubleshoot weak points long before they become problematic. Wireless sensors monitor structural health to prevent system failures and potential injuries. As interconnected devices talk to one another in a vast new Internet of Things, new cyber-physical marriages enable vital systems to be responsive.

Designing for humans

Even small disruptions can make a big difference in our daily lives – just think of how a winter storm affects your commute. Engineers keep in mind the human element, whether making infrastructure more resilient or preparing for a disaster. And when the risks are great, we want early warnings, tracking systems, and robotic colleagues to help us out.

Stronger, smarter designs

Engineering researchers often speed to the scenes of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes to gather data before it disappears. This information – combined with findings from models and simulations – enables engineers to create more resilient buildings and infrastructure to protect lives and vital services.

Related Websites:

Feel an earthquake? Find it on a USGS map!

Read how earthquake engineering research has made the U.S. safer over the past 10 years

Find out how to prepare for all kinds of disasters

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.