The National Institute of Standards and Technology is funding a new $6.6-million round of research grants aimed at bolstering the ability of buildings and other structures to stand up to earthquakes, hurricanes, winds, fires and other natural disasters.

The new group of 12 disaster-resilience grants, which NIST announced on Aug. 8, went to 11 organizations, mainly universities and their affiliates. NIST is part of the U.S. Commerce Dept.

Howard Harary, director of NIST's engineering laboratory, which oversees the resilience grant program, said in a statement, "Each of these grants represents research that is a substantial step toward creating a more disaster-resilient nation."

Texas Tech University was the only institution to receive two grants, valued at a combined $1.2 million, both for wind-related studies. NIST awarded three other wind-research grants:  $421,000 to the Florida Institute of Technology; $498,000 to the University of Illinois; and $738,000 to the University of Oklahoma.

Seismic and buildings-related grants included $691,000 to the University of Texas at Austin; $584,000 to the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, on behalf of the University at Buffalo; and $366,000 to the University of Colorado.

Three NIST grants were for fire-related research: $550,000 to the University of Maryland; $493,000 to Jensen Hughes Inc.; and $359,000 to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of more than 100 North American colleges and universities. The organization receives most of its funding from the National Science Foundation.

The Georgia Tech Research Corp., on behalf of Georgia Tech, was awarded a $699,000 grant to develop methods for improving damage assessments after various kinds of natural disasters.

The new batch of grants follows 12 disaster-resilience grants, totaling $6 million, that NIST awarded in 2017.

NIST's Harary noted that in 2018, the U.S. was hit with 14 natural disasters that each caused damages of $1 billion or more. He said U.S. disasters last year caused many deaths and total losses of more than $91 billion.