• Robots to climb and assemble structures, making construction safer

    In the near future, armies of robots could nimbly be crawling up towers and skyscrapers to make repairs, so humans do not have to; the design of the truss pieces, which have ridges and specially designed locks so the robot can manipulate them, is as important as the robot itself, and researchers express the hopes that in the future such robot-friendly building components would be standardized for widespread use

  • Physicists predict when brittle materials fail

    It does not happen often, but structures like bridges, airplanes, and buildings do fail, sometimes catastrophically; what are the odds, and how can it be prevented? Researchers just published new theoretical insights into the probability of structural failures, based on hundreds of thousands of computer simulations

  • Recycled glass in cement makes concrete stronger

    Researchers have found that by mixing ground waste glass into the cement that is used to make concrete, the concrete is stronger, more durable, and more resistant to water; in addition, the use of glass helps reduce the amount of glass that ends up in landfills

  • Invisibility cloak to protect buildings from earthquakes

    Scientists show that by cloaking components of structures with pressurized rubber, powerful waves such as those produced by an earthquake would not “see” the building — they would simply pass around the structure and thus prevent serious damage or destruction

  • Shape-memory alloys for earthquake-resistant structures

    To improve the performance of structures during earthquakes, researchers have been investigating the use of “smart” materials, such as shape-memory alloys, which can bounce back after experiencing large loads

  • Scientists develop new concrete corrosion sensors

    Scientists have made a major breakthrough in developing sensors which dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete; the sensors will make monitoring the safety of structures such as bridges and vital coastal defenses much more effective

  • Smart paint monitors structural safety

    An innovative low-cost smart paint that can detect microscopic faults in wind turbines, mines, and bridges before structural damage occurs; the environmentally friendly paint uses nanotechnology to detect movement in large structures, and could shape the future of safety monitoring

  • New concrete corrosion sensors developed

    Scientists have made a major breakthrough in developing sensors which dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete

  • Digital images used to prevent bridge failures

    A new/old method has been developed to assure the safety of hundreds of truss bridges across the United States; researchers have been testing the use of a thoroughly modern version of an old technique — photographic measurement or “photogrammetry” — to watch the failure of a key bridge component in exquisite detail

  • Building earthquake-proof buildings

    Researchers in Australia are leading an international project to help identify buildings most vulnerable to earthquakes and the best ways to strengthen them

  • Improving pothole repairs

    The alarming increase in the number of road potholes in the United Kingdom — an outcome of reduced road maintenance, increasing traffic volumes, heavier loads, and repeated adverse weather — is creating potentially hazardous driving conditions, causing serious concerns to the authorities as well as to the public; engineers are looking foe ways to improve pothole repairs

  • Changing bridge fabrication and inspection practices

    As today’s engineers investigate the rebuilding of much of the nation’s infrastructure, a lot of which was constructed in the 1950s, they are using much improved materials and analysis tools; a Virginia Tech civil engineer predicts his new work on a fracture control plan for steel bridges promises to change bridge fabrication and inspection practices

  • Building codes may underestimate multiple hazard risks

    Current building codes consider natural hazards individually — if earthquakes rank as the top threat in a particular area, local codes require buildings to withstand a specified seismic load; if hurricanes or tornadoes are the chief hazard, homes and buildings must be designed to resist loads up to an established maximum wind speed; engineers say that building codes should address multiple hazard scenarios

  • Studying the effects of fire on steel structures, nuclear plants

    Building fires may reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and the strength of steel structures drops by about 40 percent when exposed to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees Celsius; scientists study precisely what happens to the connections between a floor’s steel beams and the building columns when these connections are exposed to intense heat

  • New York's older brick buildings vulnerable

    To get a better idea of just how much damage even a moderate earthquake would cause to unreinforced masonry buildings, earthquae-engineering researchers are reconstructing brick walls like those in New York City buildings that are approximately 100 years old