Engineering

  • New barrier system to protect Venice from rising seas

    The City of Venice, Italy has carried out the first test of its $7.3 billion barrier system designed to protect the city from rising sea levels. The system, known as MOSE (MOdulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico), consists of seventy-eight mobile barriers divided into four sections at the three inlets to the Venice lagoon.

  • Using hills to shelter buildings from tornadoes

    Researchers have demonstrated the influence of hills on tornadoes. The researchers’ models revealed that the height of a hill and the size of a tornado’s vortex have a significant effect on the tornado’s destructive power. The findings could be used to identify safer areas for construction.

  • High performance concrete to rescue Brittany's lighthouses

    Lighthouses in Brittany, France, have stood at the intersection of violent currents, blinding storms, and breaking surf for over a century. A lighthouse turret off the coast of Lorient in Brittany has been enhanced with technology developed for bridges. This trial run will test the application of Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC).

  • Bay Bridge repairs expensive, slow

    California’s 8-mile San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was designed and built in the 1930s in about 5.5 years at a cost of $78 million, well under budget and ahead of schedule. Presently, the 2-mile eastern span of the bridge needs to be replaced, and it has taken the state five years just to design the replacement. Construction is taking about three times the expected time, and the $6.4 billion budget is almost five times the estimate provided by engineers.

  • Ultrathin radios enable flexible structural-health monitoring system

    Currently, engineers can use single-point sensors or fiber optic strips to detect structural problems, but the devices can collect data over relatively small spaces. The problem is that many failures develop over large areas and cannot be detect that at an early stage. The 2007 collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis, for example, developed over a gusset plate with an area of several square meters, far too large for current monitoring systems to practically survey. Researchers have developed ultrathin radios which can be embedded directly on plastic sheets, which can be applied to walls and other structures. The innovation could be used for new devices ranging from an invisible communications system inside buildings to sophisticated, flexible structural health monitoring system for use on bridges, buildings, roads, pipelines, and other structures.

  • Sandy shows need for more effective preparedness, resiliency standards

    The rebuilding efforts following the devastation wreaked by Superstorm Sandy have triggered a discussion over preparedness and resiliency in America’s commercial and residential buildings.Some experts callfor a presidential appointment of a building resilience “’czar”’ with authority to coordinate and seek synergies between public and private sector initiatives.

  • A 34-story wooden skyscraper to be built in Stockholm

    A Swedish architectural form is building a 34-story wood skyscraper in downtown Stockholm. Solid wood will be the predominant material in the building’s pillars and beams, while inside the apartments, walls, ceilings, fittings and window frames will be also constructed of wood.The firm says that wood is not only cheaper than either steel or concrete, but is also more fire resistant than both. This is due to 15 percent of wood mass being water, which will evaporate before the wood actually burns. In addition, logs get charred which protects the core.

  • Eighty-six collegiate teams compete for the best car design and build

    Eighty-six teams competed in the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers competition in Bellingham, Washington to determine the Baja car with the best design and build. Every year, collegiate automotive clubs enter to compete in any of the three national competitions that test the design, speed, maneuverability, and endurance of a student-manufactured Baja car — a frame-only vehicle used for off-roading and high adventure activity. Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Motorsports Team improved its ranking from 37th last year to 17th this year.

  • Man-induced quakes to help in building safer, sturdier buildings

    A team led by Johns Hopkins structural engineers is shaking up a building in the name of science and safety. Using massive moving platforms and an array of sensors and cameras, the researchers are trying to find out how well a two-story building made of cold-formed steel can stand up to a lab-generated Southern California quake.

  • New internally cured concrete increases bridge life span

    Concrete is normally made by mixing portland cement with water, sand, and stone. In the curing or hardening process, water helps the concrete mixture gain strength by reacting with the cement. Traditionally, curing is promoted by adding water on top of the bridge deck surface. The new technology for internal curing provides additional water pockets inside the concrete, enhancing the reaction between the cement and water, which adds to strength and durability. This new technology is enabling Indiana to improve bridges in the state with a new “internally cured” high-performance concrete.

  • Developing educational materials, courses on standards

    So called “documentary standards,” generally developed by industry-based committees, significantly influence industry, commerce and even daily life, but their role is often unrecognized save by those people who are immediately concerned.

  • Engineers to build Australia’s first bushfire resistant straw house

    With Australia’s bushfire season fast approaching, construction of the first bushfire resistant straw bale house tested by engineers from CSIRO has begun in rural Victoria; the house is based on design principles that minimize environmental impact and it is set to withstand temperatures equal to that of a worst case bushfire scenario

  • Tunnel disaster shows age of Japan’s infrastructure, but there is no money to fix it

    The collapse of hundreds of concrete ceiling slabs in a tunnel just outside Tokyo has focused the attention of the Japanese on the country’s  has citizens calling for Japan to fix its aging infrastructure; the amounts of money needed for this refurbishing are large, and , but signs indicate that Japan may not have the money, as the public debt is already more than 200 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

  • Building material of millennium: Autoclave Aerated Concrete

    Although widespread rebuilding in the hard-hit New York metro region from Hurricane Sandy has not yet begun, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) scientists say when the hammers start swinging, it is time to look at autoclaved aerated concrete; the material, best known as AAC, has been heralded as the building material of the new millennium

  • Microstructural improvements enhance material properties

    DARPA merges structural engineering principles with new fabrication technologies to demonstrate microstructural control of materials at the micron level; the ultimate objective of the agency’s Materials with Controlled Microstructural Architecture (MCMA) program is to be able to develop materials in the future with properties tailored to meet specific mission requirements