Structural Engineering and Mechanics

Structural Engineering and Mechanics

Research in Structural Engineering and Mechanics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering includes theoretical, computational and experimental investigations in areas such as fiber reinforced polymer composites, smart reinforced concrete buildings, seismic response of deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge components, strength and stability design of steel structures, structural damage identification and quantification, smart materials and earthquake resistant design of buildings and bridges, analysis of civil infrastructure against natural and man-made hazards using advanced finite element analysis techniques, development of real-time information technology based frameworks and interfaces for structural health monitoring and assessment, and employment of data-driven approaches to identify critical infrastructures interdependencies.

Research on the use of fiber reinforced polymer composites in highway bridges involves smart application of carbon fiber strips/sheets for strengthening applications, and the use of glass fiber bars as concrete reinforcement for bridges in corrosive environments. Such applications would extend the service life of highway bridges, particularly, bridge decks subjected to deicing salts.

Though frequency of earthquake occurrences and the expected ground accelerations in NYS are lower than those of western states, the potential for earthquake damage in or around NYS is still very real. Given the level of deterioration in many reinforced concrete bridges in NYS, they are considered very vulnerable to major damage during a moderate seismic event. The research on seismic response of deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge components offers guidelines for seismic evaluation and retrofit of deteriorated reinforced concrete bridge members.

Research on steel structures involves proposing novel approaches to enhance the structure’s strength, stability and constructability, as well as recommending refined methodologies for performing limit states and performance-based design. Another area of steel structures research is the use of information on perturbations in system dynamic parameters to develop damage identification and evaluation models for locating and quantifying structural damage, and the application of smart materials such as shape memory alloys in regulating the static and dynamic response of steel frames.

Current work on earthquake resistant design includes the development of empirical models for and evaluating the effect of negative stiffness dampers on structural response, investigation of the feasibility and effectiveness of a novel energy dissipative segmental steel plate shear wall in reducing earthquake damage to buildings, and the use of the endurance time method in conjunction with the applied element method for assessing structural vulnerability.

Research on finite element analysis involves high fidelity modeling of building envelopes and glazing systems fracture patterns under high dynamic loads, performing progressive collapse analysis on civil infrastructure systems (e.g. bridges) due to a fire or corrosion, conducting failure and vulnerability assessment of critical infrastructure systems (e.g. offshore oil platforms) due to blast or fire.

According to the ASCE 2015 Report Card on New York’s Infrastructure, there are 17,456 bridges in NYS. More than 50% of these bridges are 75 years old and over 400 of the New York’s bridges are 100 years old. The state also has 2,012 structurally-deficient bridges that require consistent maintenance or improvements for safe operations and transportation. The combined road and bridge funding for the NYS needs through 2030 were estimated at approximately $31 billion.

The NYS Department of Transportation Bridge Maintenance Program is currently being used by engineers to address and prioritize any repairs or reinforcement work that are needed. However, conventional health monitoring and assessment methods for bridges and the commonly used visual inspections do not always capture all important aspects of structural deteriorations, fatigue, collision damage and corrosion severity. Therefore, there is an emerging need for developing and incorporating innovative real-time information technology based frameworks and interfaces that enable the bridge authority to constantly monitor the real-time states of stresses, strains and deflections in bridges along with their corrosion levels and other forms of damage.

Because critical civil infrastructure systems are essential to a nation’s economic growth, security and health, they need to be resilient, reliable, efficient, and require systematic planning, operation, and maintenance. These critical infrastructures, while frequently maintained and operated as independent silos, are actually tightly coupled. Research on employing data-driven approaches to identify such interdependencies will provide engineers and decision makers with useful insights on how a component in one infrastructure can influence components in other infrastructures, thereby allowing designers and planners to (1) engage in a more informed design of each infrastructure by taking into consideration its interdependencies with other infrastructures, (2) identify “high risk” components within individual infrastructure that could cascade across other systems, and (3) design and implement effective mitigation strategies to prevent such cascading failure scenarios.