Structural testing: Sensors, computer modeling, wireless technologies can help

In wake of the fatal Aug. 1, 2007, Minneapolis, MN, Interstate 35 bridge collapse, after recovery efforts are complete, investigations will commence about the tragedy. Preliminary reports suggest that the bridge recently passed inspection, which may raise questions about engineering methods used for such inspections. Engineering resources follow.


In wake of the fatal Aug. 1, 2007, Minneapolis , MN , Interstate 35 bridge collapse , after recovery efforts are complete, investigations will commence about the tragedy. Preliminary reports suggest that the bridge recently passed inspection, which may raise questions about engineering methods used for such inspections.

Engineering technologies helpful for structural testing include instrumentation and sensors that measure, record, and analyze corrosion, vibration, load, and metal stress and fatigue; wireless technologies that can help relay such data and information; and simulation software that can combine sensor input, design information, and historical data to help predict time to failure. Related information and sources follow.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

July 27, 2007, from USDT FHA: “

Nation's Top Highway Official Awards $5.3 Million to Encourage Bridge Innovations


NDEVC Facilities - Test Bridges - NDEVC Test Bridges:“

Field bridges provide a test bed for investigating the impact the inspection environment has on reliability and system performance


NDE (non destructive evaluation) Validation Center was established by the Federal Highway Administration in 1998

. The objective of the NDEVC is to improve the state of the practice for highway bridge inspection.

Highways and Bridges on the Brink of the New Century: “

One in seven bridges in the United States is functionally obsolete


Control Engineering buyer’s guide

Structural testing products and services

Simulation software

Wireless sensors

Various system integrators provide related expertise. Search for appropriate areas of expertise in the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide , such as civil and structural engineering, non-contact measurement, simulation and modeling, and test and inspection.

An ASME search on NDE testing provides nondestructive evaluation test information.

Also, search on structural testing at


reveals various testing strategies and guidelines.

Reed Business Information magazines with related information, in addition to Control Engineering , include

Consulting-Specifying Engineer

Design News

Plant Engineering

Compiled by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief
Control Engineering

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