Some of the nation’s top researchers gath­ered at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity this week for the National Sci­ence Foundation’s annual Engi­neering Research and Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence, which is being hosted by the Col­lege of Engineering.

Fac­ulty mem­bers, such as Mishac Yegian, a Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Civil and Envi­ron­mental Engi­neering, used the event as an oppor­tu­nity to net­work and col­lab­o­rate with their esteemed peers.

Yegian on Monday pre­sented his in-​​progress research on making soil more earthquake-​​resistant. The research, funded by a $1.2 mil­lion grant from the NSF’s George E. Brown, Jr. Net­work for Earth­quake and Engi­neering Sim­u­la­tion, is an excel­lent example of part­ner­ships, engaging col­lab­o­ra­tors at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas, SUNY Buf­falo, and Boise State.  The project focuses on per­fecting a tech­nique called induced par­tial sat­u­ra­tion, which uses oxygen bub­bles to sta­bi­lize soil.  The part­ner­ship uses research equip­ment through the George E. Brown, Jr. Net­work for Earth­quake and Engi­neering Simulation.

North­eastern fac­ulty pre­sented a range of engi­neering research throughout the con­fer­ence. For example, Jacque­line Isaacs, pro­fessor and chair of the depart­ment of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering, pre­sented research intended to foster the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of nan­otech­nology. Andrew Gould­stone, assis­tant pro­fessor of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering, pre­sented research exploring vol­canology and thermal spray tech­niques to develop “geo-​​inspired” nanoporous thin films and coatings.

This year’s con­fer­ence theme, devel­oped in con­cert with the university’s insti­tu­tional goals, focused on building robust part­ner­ships between acad­emia, industry and gov­ern­ment with an aim toward imple­menting pos­i­tive out­comes for society. In three town hall meet­ings, con­fer­ence atten­dees were invited to par­tic­i­pate in dis­cus­sions on best prac­tices, suc­cessful part­ner­ships and future opportunities.

Sara Wadia-​​Fascetti, asso­ciate dean and pro­fessor of civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering, helped orga­nize the con­fer­ence. She said, “town hall con­ver­sa­tions stressed that people are the most impor­tant part of part­ner­ships and that part­ner­ships are sim­ilar to mar­riages and require com­pro­mises and under­standing each other’s pri­or­i­ties.  The “part­ner­ship con­tinuum” can result in many long term and unex­pected benefits.”

The con­fer­ence may be winding down, but the Net­work for Earth­quake and Engi­neering Sim­u­la­tion will kick off its own annual event on Thursday at the Hynes Con­ven­tion Center. The Quake Summit 2012 will focus on research accel­er­ating infra­struc­ture design and con­struc­tion prac­tices that min­i­mize damage during earth­quakes or tsunamis.