December 17, 2009
NEEScomm Update: November 2009
Julio Ramirez, Director of NEES Operations, provides the NEES community with an informal update of NEEScomm activities.
NEEScomm has been in business for about six weeks now. Hence, it is time to provide you with an informal update of our activities. This message covers a wide range of topics and is targeted to the wider NEES community. Our intent is to provide the community with regular updates on our activities, particularly as they impact you. We welcome your input and encourage you to visit the organization web site, nees.org, for more frequent updates and important announcements.
GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY INPUT
GOVERNANCE BOARD: In November, the NEEScomm ad-hoc Steering Committee, chaired by Prof Ian Buckle, completed the appointment of the first NEES Operations Governance Board. In addition to Prof. Buckle, the ad-hoc Steering Committee consists of: Dr. Farzad Naeim, John Martin and Associates (chair of the Governance Board); Prof. James Wight, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Dr. Steve McCabe, NEESinc; Dr. Roberta Balstad, Columbia University; Prof. Tom Finholt, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Prof. Gary Bertolini, Purdue University, W. Lafayette; Mr. Dave Kotterman, Purdue University, W. Lafayette; and Prof. Julio Ramirez, Purdue University, (non-voting, ex-officio member). The committee is presently working on the development of the operating procedures of the Governance Board.
The charge of the NEES Operations Governance Board is to:
1. Provide oversight to NEEScomm management headquarters on key directions, strategies, priorities, policies, and partnerships;
2. Provide annual assessments of project progress and plans; and
3. Ensure that NEEScomm operates with transparency and accountability to NSF and stakeholders.
The NEES Operations Governance Board membership avoids conflicts of interest, real or perceived, with the NEEScomm team and its partner organizations and consultants supported by the cooperative agreement entered into between the National Science Foundation and Purdue University.
We are pleased to announce the following individuals as members of this board with term length in parenthesis:
* Dr. Farzad Naeim, John Martin and Associates, Chair of the Governance Board (2-year)
* Prof. Glenn Rix, Georgia Tech (2-year)
* Dr. Roberta Balstad, Columbia University (1-year)
* Prof. George Cybenko, Dartmouth College (2-year)
* Dr. Nancy Healy, National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, Georgia Tech (2-year)
* Dr. Anthony Fiorato, Glenview IL (1-year)
* Dr. Roberta Johnson, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (1-year)
* Mr. Bill Holmes, Rutherford & Chekene, San Francisco CA (1-year)
* Prof. Kenneth Elwood, University of British Columbia, (2-year)
* Prof. Sergio Alcocer, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (2-year)
* Dr. Horst Simon, Berkeley National Laboratory (1-year)
* Mr. Christopher Rojahn, Applied Technology Council (2-year)
USERS FORUM: On November 1, 2009, we established the first NEES Users Forum. The NEES community contributes as stakeholders through this forum by giving input on network management or research. NEEScomm has identified three initial ways the forum can contribute:
1. Provide three representatives to the NEEScomm Project Advisory Committee (PAC);
2. Help populate the working groups of the NEEScomm Project Advisory Committee, i.e. site operations, community collaboration, IT (data, tools, etc), and assessment, either by identifying individuals or participating themselves; and
3. Build a user community committed to NEES that facilitates collaboration and communication across the users and helps drive the scope and priorities of NEES.
The initial activities of the Users Forum will be to select its chairperson, appoint three representatives to the NEEScomm Project Advisory Committee, and develop its operating procedures. NEEScomm team members and other individuals from the NEES community submitted nominations of qualified individuals in one or more of the following categories: (a) PI’s on NEESR projects or shared-use projects using the sites; (b) users of NEES IT products - simulation, data viewing, etc; (c) graduate students engaged in NEES research; and (d) practitioners and representatives of professional societies (ASCE, EERI etc.), associations/groups (AISC, ACI etc), and government agencies. We are pleased to inform you that the following individuals have agreed to serve on the Users Forum for a one-year term; next to the name we have identified the category in parenthesis from those described above:
* Dr. Carol Shield, University of Minnesota (a and b)
* Dr. Gustavo Parra-Montesinos, University of Michigan (a and b)
* Dr. John W. van de Lindt, Colorado State University (a and b)
* Dr. Richard Christenson, University of Connecticut (a and b)
* Dr. Sri Sritharan, Iowa State University (a and b)
* Dr. Laura Lowes, University of Washington (a and b)
* Dr. Silvia Mazzoni, University of California Berkeley (b)
* Dr. Lelli Van Den Einde, UC San Diego (b)
* Mr. Wei Song, Purdue University (c)
* Mr. Remy Luquesne, University of Michigan (c)
* Mr. Jay Berger, EERI (d)
* Dr. Jeffrey J. Dragovich, NIST (d)
The Users Forum will receive the support from Ann Zimmerman, a NEEScomm Project Advisory Committee member. Dr. Zimmerman has been tasked with evaluating the efficiency of the collaboration strategies for involving the earthquake community at large in the management of the network. We encourage everyone interested in NEES to consider invitations from the forum to participate in the various activities of NEES. You will hear more about this in the near future.
SITE ANNUAL WORK PLAN REVIEW: The Site Operations Subcommittee (SOS) consisting of Profs. Tarek Abdoun, Ian Buckle, Jim Ricles, Glenn Rix and Marc Eberhard reviewed all of the Annual Work Plans (AWP’s) of the sites and are completing its evaluation report. All 14 AWPs and site budgets have been sent to NSF.
SHARED-USE REQUESTS AND OTHER OPERATIONAL POLICIES: As of today NEEScomm has not revised any of the NEESinc operational policies; thus, these policies continue in effect for now. We will continue the review of these policies and will have it completed by March 1, 2010. NEEScomm has placed a temporary freeze on shared-use requests. Since then, we have received a few shared-use requests. We will review the policy by the end of November. Based on the current demands at the sites, we will have to look at future requests carefully to make sure that they do not slow down NEESR projects or require additional resources.
DIRECTOR OF SITE OPERATIONS AND EQUIPMENT SITE VISITS: We are moving expeditiously to identify this individual. In the meantime, feel free to contact me. We are engaging John Eston, formerly with NEESinc, to work with the NEEScomm Business Office and Prof. Marc Eberhard , NEEScomm leader for site operations during the transition. NEEScomm has scheduled site visits to the NEES sites at OSU and UCSD on November 20 and 23. We will visit several East Coast sites early in December.
NEW BUSINESS MANAGER, SUBCONTRACTS and NSF FUNDING: We are delighted to welcome Meagan Kramer as the business manager of NEEScomm. Subcontracts are now in place with MTS and 13 of the 14 sites. The federal government is currently working on a continuing resolution. On October 1, NEEScomm requested 65% of its operations budget from NSF and on November 2, NEEScomm submitted to NSF its full budget request for all components of NEES, including the sites. These actions will ensure that research activities are not affected by the transition of managers.
IT ACTIVITIES: The IT team under the leadership of Dawn Weisman , NEEScomm Director for IT, has focused primarily on the transition effort, which will duplicate the current NEES IT software environment on Purdue hardware. NEESit has been providing excellent support throughout this effort. By the end of the transition period - sometime in Spring 2010 - nees.org will run entirely on Purdue hardware. A second effort to develop the new NEEShub is also starting up. Release 1 of NEEShub will essentially duplicate the functionality available on nees.org, providing uninterrupted support to the user community. A handful of critical areas will be targeted for new functionality, including improved project and data viewing capabilities, direct tool execution, and enhanced upload utilities. The IT team has begun evaluation of supporting software tools. Additionally, updates to the Cybersecurity Plan are in progress. A draft has been made available to the Equipment Sites for review before it is submitted to NSF on December 1.
The effort toward our longer-term IT vision has also commenced. Future releases of the NEEShub will include a number of improvements that we believe are critical. Foremost is a NEES Data Repository with improved, curated project and data viewing as well as enhanced upload utilities. The NEEShub is capable of executing computer tools directly, via the web, without users having to download and install the tools. This capability will allow users to plot sensor data directly, run numerical simulators on the NEEShub (e.g., OpenSees), and invoke telepresence utilities.
EOT ACTIVITIES AND MATERIALS: On October 22, the NEEScomm team in partnership with several of the sites submitted an REU proposal to NSF for the next three years. While we will not hear from NSF for several months about the proposal, we plan to go forward with an REU for summer 2010. Information will start being available in December. Sean Brophy and Thalia Anagnos have begun to design the look and feel of the NEES Academy and to experiment with prototype content. In collaboration with the IT team, we have used NEEShub technology to incorporate an interface for remote operation and viewing of instructional shake tables in partnership with the CCLI project led by Prof. Shirley Dyke . We are looking for other interesting content and applications (videos, simulations, visualizations). Please contact Sean Brophy or Thalia Anagnos if you would like to discuss an idea.
ANNUAL MEETING: We plan to announce the date and location of the next NEES annual meeting in the next few weeks. MORE SOON!
Director NEES Operations