Frequently Asked Questions

The Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (SimCenter) is a National Science Foundation-funded Center within the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program. The SimCenter develops and promotes advanced modeling and simulation technologies for natural hazards engineering to understand and quantify the effects of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural hazards on buildings, lifelines, and communities. Natural hazards pose a grave risk to human life and account for tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in damage each year in the U.S. alone. The SimCenter creates computational tools and complementary education programs that empower researchers to innovate new strategies for mitigating risk and promoting community resilience under the threat of these natural hazards.

The SimCenter provides software to streamline natural hazards engineering research in a cyber-infrastructure framework that allows collaborative simulations from various disciplines to be integrated while accounting for pertinent sources of uncertainty. Software products include research oriented tools and educationally oriented tools. In addition, the SimCenter provides training materials related to engineering solutions for mitigating the effects of natural hazards.

The SimCenter software is comprised of Scientific Workflow Applications (SWA), which automate the process of passing information between applications that are chained together in a workflow to simulate the outcomes of complex processes. These SWAs are created in an Application Framework (AF) also developed by SimCenter. The AF is a collection of software components and corresponding interfaces necessary to perform complex simulations in a specific domain. The SimCenter provides several SWAs for the natural hazards engineering community. Researchers are encouraged to use the AF to create their own SWAs.

SWAs include the quoFEM Tool, PBE Application, R2D Tool, EE-UQ Application, WE-UQ Application, and Hyrdo-UQ Application with Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) that facilitate user interaction. Anticipating the need for remote high-performance computing (HPC) in addition to local runs, all of our software has the option to utilize HPC resources offered by the NHERI cyberinfrastructure at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) through DesignSafe-CI. The Application Framework is open-source and its development is meant to be community-driven. Feedback is encouraged at and contributions are welcomed.

Our software tools are available as executables at the SimCenter website under Research Tools and Learning Tools. The source code of all SWAs, their components, and the Application Framework are available at the SimCenter github repository.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (Awards 1612843 and 2131111), the SimCenter is led by a team of engineers and computer scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Washington, and Stanford University. Collaborators from UCLA, University of Delaware, Johns Hopkins University, UC San Diego, University of Michigan, Georgia State University, and University of Southern California are involved in many aspects of the software development and educational components. If you are developing relevant components, please contact us!

Please contact us with any questions, concerns, or ideas. Email, join the community to stay informed, or report bugs, request features, or ask questions about the tools here

The SimCenter develops software for simulating the effects of natural hazards on the built environment. DesignSafe-CI is the computational infrastructure (CI) that hosts our tools, provides HPC to the NHERI community, and is the online resource for data publication, curation, and sharing.

SimCenter software and datasets are open-source and released to the entire research community through DesignSafe-CI and our github repository. The SimCenter provides researchers basic user-support and help with software use, development, and extension. It is permissible to mention this in proposals that plan to use SimCenter software. If there is a mutually beneficial collaborative activity envisioned then a letter of collaboration can be provided. Letters of collaboration should be requested from PI Matthew DeJong. If substantial project-specific development and committed resources are desired, these should be budgeted in proposals based on the anticipated support level; please contact the Matt Schoettler for help in preparing budgets.

Educational apps are available online with video tutorials & examples. Visit:

Yes! We strongly encourage using the SimCenter educational tools for your research. Likewise, you are welcome to use our research tools for educational purposes. We welcome your feedback on how you use our tools.

Students and researchers are encouraged to attend our Programming Bootcamp to learn the basics of computer programming to build applications that utilize SimCenter products. End-users can attend a Tool Training Workshop to learn how to run our software on their computers or DesignSafe-CI resources.

No. The SimCenter does not directly provide research funding. PIs should apply to NSF and other agencies for research funding. The SimCenter can, however, provide software and advice to help you carry out your research. Letters of collaboration are available by contacting the SimCenter PI.

Yes, we have space to host visitors at our headquarters. The SimCenter welcomes graduate students and senior researchers for the purpose of engaging in intensive software development. Such visits need to be arranged in advance with the Associate Director to ensure space availability for researchers in residence. PIs should budget for such interactions in their research proposals, as we only supply working space.

The SimCenter offers a multidisciplinary NHERI Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Students studying computer science, natural hazards engineering, and social sciences are encouraged to apply to the SimCenter through the NHERI REU program.

The Data Depot of DesignSafe-CI provides a convenient platform for sharing simulation data that can be curated and cited by others.

All SimCenter tools come with citable Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). Please use these identifiers to cite our tools when you use them in your research. The DOI is found in the file of the specific tool’s github repository and is hosted by Zenodo with specifications for the citation. As an example, the Pile Group Tool’s citation is:

Peter Mackenzie-Helnwein, Frank McKenna, Pedro Arduino, Alborz Ghofani, Maxwell Rutman, & Tatsuhiko Sweet. (2018, August 28). PileGroupTool (Version 2.0.3). Zenodo.

We also request that you cite our marker paper:

Deierlein, G.G., McKenna, F., Zsarnóczay, A., Kijewski-Correa, T., Kareem, A., Elhaddad, W., Lowes, L., Schoettler, M.J., and Govindjee, S. (2020). A Cloud-Enabled Application Framework for Simulating Regional-Scale Impacts of Natural Hazards on the Built Environment. Front. Built Environ. 6:558706. doi: 10.3389/fbuil.2020.558706

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