Infrastructure Technology Institute
Since its inception in 1992, ITI has developed and deployed several new technologies in structural health monitoring, non-destructive structural evaluation, and transportation community facilitation. ITI has brought these technologies to bear through commercialization of research, cultivation of community and sharing of knowledge among transportation agencies, and close working relationships with state and federal transportation agencies.
Though autonomous crack monitoring technology was developed to meet the needs of transportation agencies with construction projects adjacent to private property and to stem the loss of the ability to mine road aggregate, it has found to be applicable in many other situations. 2005, 4SE, Inc., a private structural engineering firm, sought to apply ACM technology to the monitoring of a 160-year old church in Charleston, South Carolina. ITI provided technical support and guidance that allowed this technology to be utilized by engineers of disciplines outside of transportation.
Scour and undermining at bridge piers is a major concern throughout the country. In partnership with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), ITI developed a clinometer-based system to characterize the response of bridge piers to scour. Rather than attempt to directly observe the development of scour pockets – which is extremely difficult to do accurately, as the pockets tend to fill with debris – the ITI system measures small changes in the tilt of each pier. ITI deployed clinometer networks on three CalTrans bridges. Following the success of those installations, CalTrans adopted the ITI method and independently deployed clinometer networks on eight additional bridges.
ITI-sponsored researchers in Northwestern’s department of Materials Science and Engineering created a new type of steel with properties that allowed bridge construction to take place more economically. This steel has superior strength, workability, and durability, making it attractive to DOTs nationwide. The material has been used by the Illinois Department of Transportation to construct a railroad bridge in Lake Villa, Illinois.
ITI has commercialized many ITI-developed technologies and made them available for use in the private sector. Among these technologies are:
• Integration, Automation, and Remote Control of Field Data Acquisition Systems, whereby one or more commercially-available data acquisition systems is modified to run continuously, without human intervention, automatically delivering data back to engineers and interested parties,
• Automated Web Display of Remote Monitoring Data, whereby data that is generated by any number of structural health monitoring systems is autonomously displayed on a secure website on which interested parties may have immediate access to the data without any special software or utilities,
• Internet Monitoring of Urban Construction, whereby a construction company may use a remotely-controllable Internet-based camera to view a remote construction site in real time and acquire time-lapse imagery without the time and expense of traditional CCTV systems
Many transportation agencies across the United States have similar problems and therefore would benefit from the sharing of the solutions and experiences of their counterparts in other states. ITI has facilitated this community interaction through the sponsorship, technical support, and administration of several transportation community groups.
Bridge engineers across the central United States region face similar problems on the structures they manage, yet state engineers are often restricted from out-of-state travel. In partnership with the University of Kentucky, ITI sponsors the Midwest Bridge Working Group, a regional forum for exchange of ideas, research, and best practices for bridge inspection, maintenance, and rehabilitation.
ITI worked closely with the FHWA to deliver web-broadcasting ability for their Bridge Preservation Workshop held in 2007 in St. Louis. Using ITI technology, FHWA was able to have engineers from across the country participate in the meeting in real time without the expense of traveling to St. Louis.
ITI plays an integral role in the administration and production of the William O. Lipinski Transportation Symposia that take place every year in the Chicago area. Through these meetings, state and local transportation agencies can meet to share experiences, solicit assistance, and honor those among them who have excelled in the advancement of transportation in and around Chicago.