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Recent Activities

NIST Will Conduct Technical Investigation Into the Collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium (June 30, 2021)

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Today the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it would launch a full technical investigation into what caused the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium in Surfside, Florida, on June 24, 2021.  The NIST investigation will not interfere with the ongoing search-and-rescue operations. NIST has been working with other government officials at the scene of the collapse, and the agency will continue to cooperate with all ongoing local, state and federal investigations. NIST investigators will only enter the actual site of the collapse after it is deemed safe for them to do so.

2020 NIST Disaster Resilience Symposium (July 28-29, 2020)

The Engineering Laboratory at NIST, Gaithersburg, hosted its third annual symposium, July 28-29, 2020, featuring the Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program recipients from 2017 and 2019. Recipients presented their research and findings from their awards from topics related to Disaster and Failure StudiesNational Earthquake Hazards Reduction ProgramWind Impact Reduction, and Reduced Ignition of Building Components in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires Project

NIST Awards $6.6 Million for Research to Help Structures Better Withstand Earthquakes, Wind, and Fire (August 8, 2019)

Eleven organizations were awarded 12 grants to conduct research into how earthquakes, wind and fire affect the built environment to inform building designs, codes and standards to help those structures better withstand such hazards. NIST announced the awards on August 8, 2019, providing more than $6.6 million to fund research into improving disaster resilience. Awards ranged from $399,000 to $699,000. Howard Harary, Director of NIST’s Engineering Laboratory, which manages the Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program said “Each of these grants represents research that is a substantial step toward creating a more disaster resilient nation.” The research projects align with NIST’s own programs in disaster resilience and support development of science-based building codes.

2019 NIST Disaster Resilience Symposium (August 7-8, 2019)

NIST held its second annual symposium, August 7-8, 2019, featuring Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program recipients. Of the original 172 disaster resilience research proposals, 12 were awarded totaling just over $6 million. Recipients shared insights and findings based on the research topics funded under the 2016-NIST-DR-01, including Disaster and Failure StudiesNational Earthquake Hazards Reduction ProgramWind Impact Reduction, and Reduced Ignition of Building Components in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires Project. NIST researchers also shared progress reports on their related research in these areas."

2018 NIST Disaster Resilience Symposium (August 14-15, 2018)

The Engineering Laboratory at NIST, Gaithersburg, hosted a symposium featuring the 2016 Disaster Resilience Grant Research Program recipients. 12 of 172 disaster resilience research proposals were awarded totaling just over $6 million. In August of 2018 recipients convened to share insights and findings based on the research topics funded under the 2016-NIST-DR-01. Recipients presented their research and findings from the first year of their award from topics that include Disaster and Failure StudiesNational Earthquake Hazards Reduction ProgramWind Impact Reduction, and Reduced Ignition of Building Components in Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires Project.  Additionally, NIST researchers presented their work that supports advancement in U.S. Disaster Resilience.  The following links provide access to the Keynote Speech and Opening Remarks as well as the Disaster and Failure Studies Overview.

Hurricane Maria (September 20, 2017)

NIST has announced via the Federal Register that the agency is investigating the effects of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico using its authority under the National Construction Safety Team Act. NIST reviewed preliminary observations from a December 2017 reconnaissance deployment to Puerto Rico which resulted in a cohesive plan to characterize: (1) the wind environment and technical conditions associated with deaths and injuries; (2) the performance of representative critical buildings, and designated safe areas in those buildings, including their dependence on lifelines; and (3) the performance of emergency communications systems and the public’s response to such communications. For more information about the investigation please visit:

2011 Missouri Tornado (May 22, 2011)

The Draft Final Report of the NIST Technical Investigation of the May 22, 2011, Tornado in Joplin, Missouri was released for a public comment period, November 21, 2013. The final report was released on March 28, 2014. The key conclusion of a two-year technical investigation is that nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes.  Based on findings from the investigation, NIST developed 16 recommendations for improving how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed and maintained in tornado-prone regions; and for improving the emergency communications that warn of imminent threat from tornadoes. The NIST report also includes a number of recommendations for future research and development of technologies and strategies to advance tornado wind measurements, strengthen emergency communications, increase warning time, derive more accurate tornado hazard maps, and significantly improve public response during tornado events.

2011 Texas Wildland Fires (February 2011)

Collaborative Effort, NIST and the Texas Fire Service (TFS) 
Wildland fires outside of Amarillo, Texas that destroyed 70 homes, burned more than 25,000 acres of land, and caused nearly $6 million in property damage, was the most thoroughly investigated and scientifically evaluated events of their kind, thanks to a collaborative effort between NIST and the Texas Forest Service (TFS).  During a three-week reconnaissance, a NIST-developed data collection methodology was used to acquire approximately 163 gigabytes of data and more than 11,000 photographs to document two of the blazes, now known as the Willow Creek and Tanglewood Complex fires.  This massive amount of accumulated information became the foundation for a NIST-TFS study assessing the impact of the two wildfires on structures in the region.  >>More

2011 New Zealand Earthquake (February 2011)

NIST Researcher Joins ACSE Reconnaissance Team  
A NIST researcher joined the initial reconnaissance team from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) that went to Christchurch, New Zealand in April of 2011, to explore the causes of damage to infrastructure as a result of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake on February 22.

2010 Chile Earthquake (February 2010)

NIST Engineer Serving on Chilean Quake Research Team 
In March of 2010, a NIST research structural engineer was deployed to Chile as a member of a large multidisciplinary team of experts documenting the effects of the Feb. 27, 2010, earthquake in that country. The Chilean quake measured 8.8 on the Richter scale, equivalent to a force of 16 million kilotons of TNT, making it one of the most powerful earthquakes of the last 100 years.


Created July 6, 2016, Updated April 5, 2022