Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SimCenter?
What does the SimCenter provide?
How does SimCenter software work?
When will software be available?
How do I access SimCenter software?
Who is developing SimCenter tools?
Whom do I contact with questions?
What is the relationship between SimCenter and DesignSafe-CI?
How do I incorporate the SimCenter into a proposal?
How do I incorporate SimCenter tools in my classroom?
Can I use SimCenter education tools in research?
What training opportunities are offered to graduate students to develop or incorporate research software into the SimCenter framework?
Can I apply to the SimCenter for research funding?
Can researchers come to the SimCenter in Berkeley and interact with SimCenter staff?
I am interested in a particular topic but cannot find any educational material on it on the SimCenter webpage. What do I do?
What undergraduate opportunities does the SimCenter offer?
How do I share simulation data?
How do I cite SimCenter tools in my publications?

What is the SimCenter?

The Computational Modeling and Simulation Center (SimCenter) is an NSF-sponsored Center within the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI). The SimCenter provides access to next-generation computational modeling and simulation software tools, user support, and educational materials to advance capabilities for simulating the impact of natural hazards on structures, lifelines, and communities.

What does the SimCenter provide?

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.

How does SimCenter software work?

The SimCenter software comprises 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. We provide several example SWAs that we consider useful for the academic community and release them as Testbeds. Researchers are welcome to use the AF to create their own SWAs.

Available applications include the uqFEM Tool and the CWE Tool with Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) that facilitate user interaction; these will joined by an Earthquake Engineering (EE) Tool and a Performance Based Engineering (PBE) Tool scheduled for release in September 2018. The Regional Earthquake Workflow is another type of SWA. 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 and contributions are encouraged and welcomed by the developers.

When will software be available?

Release dates are included in the Overview pages for research and educational tools.

How do I access SimCenter software?

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.

Who is developing SimCenter tools?

Funded by the National Science Foundation (Award 1612843), the SimCenter comprises 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, Georgia Tech, Columbia University, UC San Diego, the International Computer Science Institute, Georgia State University, University of Southern California, and California State University - Long Beach are involved in many aspects of the software development and the educational components. If you are developing relevant components, please contact us!

Whom do I contact with questions?

Please contact us with any questions, concerns, or ideas. Email NHERI-SimCenter@berkeley.edu, join the community, and follow the #simcenter Slack Channel in the NHERI DesignSafe-CI workspace.

What is the relationship between SimCenter and DesignSafe-CI?

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.

How do I incorporate the SimCenter into a proposal?

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 on using SimCenter software, and we can provide a letter of support indicating this. Letters of support should be requested from PI Sanjay Govindjee. 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 Associate Director of Operations for help in preparing budgets.

How do I incorporate SimCenter tools in my classroom?

Educational apps are available online with video tutorials & examples. Visit: https://simcenter.designsafe-ci.org/learning-tools.

Can I use SimCenter education tools in research?

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.

What training opportunities are offered to graduate students to develop or incorporate research software into the SimCenter framework?

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. These are being planned for the summer of 2019 and will be announced through DesignSafe-CI.

Can I apply to the SimCenter for research funding?

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 support are available by contacting the SimCenter PI.

Can researchers come to the SimCenter in Berkeley and interact with SimCenter staff?

Yes, we have space to host a handful of visitors at any one time. The SimCenter staff welcome graduate students and senior researchers for the purpose of engaging in intensive software development. Such visits need to be arranged in advance with the Director of Operations to ensure the availability of a workstation. PIs should budget for such interactions in their research proposals, as we only supply working space.

I am interested in a particular topic but cannot find any educational material on it on the SimCenter webpage. What do I do?

Please send us an e-mail detailing the topic you are interested in. We can investigate whether one of our experts can develop some materials on the topic. Topics should be relevant to engineering and simulation for natural hazards.

What undergraduate opportunities does the SimCenter offer?

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.

How do I share simulation data?

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

How do I cite SimCenter tools in my publications?

All SimCenter tools and manuals 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 README.md 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.
http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1410668