McC BarsMcCormick School of Engineering HomeMcCormick School of Engineering HomeNorthwestern University Homepage

Infrastructure Technology Institute

Showcasing the Products:
University Research Technology Transfer Day

In early April, members of the REG traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the University Research Technology Transfer Day at US DOT headquarters, hosted by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). This one-day demonstration/exhibition displayed prominent university transportation products developed through US DOT sponsorship, highlighting the accomplishments and impact of university-based research and education programs. This included meaningful technology transfer from the university transportation programs in use at various federal, state and local agencies. The event also included poster sessions, remarks by Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari and RITA Administrator Peter Appel, and panel discussions about research.

At the event, Research Engineer David Kosnik presented the REG’s work on advanced techniques for retrofit performance and reliability monitoring on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 2007, ITI has used advanced computer-controlled sensing systems for real-time measurement of critical engineering quantities, which has provided important insight for detection and repair of corrosion-related failures of uplift bearing components, helping keep this bridge of both regional and national importance in good repair and safe for the 120,000 vehicles that cross it daily.

On the evening of September 29, 2008, the automated structural health monitoring system measured a large, sudden shift in strain measurements on an uplift bearing anchor rod, suggesting that the rod had fractured. ITI researchers in the Chicago-area lab reviewed the data and promptly alerted the bridge owner. Upon inspection, the rod was found to be completely severed. Without monitoring, no one could have known about the fracture until the next routine inspection - even then, the fracture would have been nearly invisible, as the paint remained intact.

The goal of this research is to develop structural health monitoring systems that can be deployed readily by state DOTs and other transportation infrastructure owners.