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Winter 2012-2013

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Structural Engineering. Unique in the Nation.

Teaching Laboratory
Undergraduate structural engineering teaching laboratory in the new Structural and Materials Engineering building.

It's not just the large-scale and full-scale testing facilities that make the Department of Structural Engineering unique. If you look beyond the Jacobs School, you won't find another structural engineering department in the United States. Most faculty and students pursuing structural engineering research belong to broader civil engineering departments.

Jacobs School structural engineers are leaders in large-scale and full-scale testing research. Facilities include the world's largest outdoor shake table at the Englekirk Structural Engineering enter and the Powell Structural Research Laboratories on the Jacobs School campus. Programs cover multihazard mitigation, including earthquake and blast; earthquake engineering and infrastructural renewal; structural health monitoring; risk engineering and composite and nano-materials and lightweight structural systems.

Testing Metal-Frame Buildings

Testing Metal-Frame BuildingsMetal-frame buildings, also known as Metal Building Systems, constitute a large portion of low-rise buildings in the United States. Two new seismic safety systems for these structures are under development as a result of a series of tests on the world's largest outdoor shake table and at the Powell Labs. The tests were led by Chia-Ming Uang, a structural engineering professor.

Three full-scale frames were tested on the shake table. Ten beamcolumn assemblies also were cyclically tested at the Powell Labs to provide data about the strength and cyclic performance of lateral buckling of tapered I-beams. The data will be used to validate inelastic finite elements used to model the cyclic behavior of metal building fames.

Metal frames are typically composed of steel moment frames with slender tapered beam sections. Conventional steel moment frames rely on the formation of ductile plastic hinges to prevent collapse. The slender members are unable to deform in a traditionally inelastic model, and that raises questions about frame behavior during large seismic events. The tests aimed to answer these questions. The research program was sponsored by the Metal Building Manufacturers Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute and the NSF's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

Gauging the Seismic Safety of Retaining Walls

Researchers at the Jacobs School will be testing a full-scale, 7-meter-tall retaining structure on the world's largest outdoor shake table in spring 2013. The tests, conducted on a scale never achieved before, will collect high-quality data on the overall seismic response of these structures, which constitute an integral and ever-growing component of our nation's infrastructure. The data will be used to enhance design guidelines for mechanically stabilized earth walls in seismic regions and to help validate previous research and numerical models. The tests, led by structural engineering professors Patrick Fox and Ahmed Elgamal and graduate student Andrew Sander, are sponsored by the NSF's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

Retaining Structure Diagram
A diagram of the components to be tested in the retaining structure.

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