Infrastructure Technology Institute
Infrastructure is the connective tissue of our economy and society. The extent and capacity of U.S. transportation infrastructure are characteristics we take for granted until something goes wrong. While catastrophic bridge failures are rare, they are not unheard of. Although each was an infrastructure failure, many among them were attributable to external factors – strikes by vehicles or ships: the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa (1980); Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge in Alabama (1993); I-40 near Webber Falls, Oklahoma (2002); I-80 near Big Springs, Nebraska (2003); I-580 in Oakland, California (2007). Events such as the losses of the Silver Bridge at Point Pleasant, W. VA in 1967 and the Schoharie Creek Bridge on the New York State Thruway in 1987, however, are directly attributable to infrastructure failures: loss of integrity due to the often-complex interactions of environmental forces, design, materials, and loading.
Northwestern’s Infrastructure Technology Institute is about ensuring our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure against failure. A primary focus of the work of ITI is structural health monitoring (SHM) – developing and deploying technologies and methods to assess the condition of key transportation components, and to convert condition and performance data into information that is useful in decision making.
Key infrastructure decisions include replacement, rehabilitation, maintenance, and in the short term, use restrictions or even closures. In an era of much competition for scarce resources, it is imperative that we make wise decisions about infrastructure management, and good information can contribute to better decisions.
This web site tells some of the stories of ITI, its tasks and its people. It goes beyond our technology advances to describe some of our educational achievements and our support of policy analysis and the infrastructure policy debate. Please tour this site to learn more about achieving infrastructure surety. And come back soon to track our successes and follow the story of America’s transportation infrastructure. And of course, if you have a problem that we can help you with, please do not
hesitate to contact us.
Joseph L. Schofer
Director of the Infrastructure Technology Institute
Associate Dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of
Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Transportation