Iowa State, Italy researchers collaborate on structural health monitoring

Iowa State researchers meet with University of Perugia (Italy) researchers in Italy, summer 2013.
Iowa State researchers meet with University of Perugia (Italy) researchers in Italy, summer 2013.

Two cultures collaborate to develop novel structural detection methods.

Researchers from Iowa State University and University of Perugia (Italy) compare U.S. patented soft elastomeric surface sensors with Italian cement-based embeddable sensors. Both of these technologies are being developed as novel nanocomposite solutions to dynamic structural monitoring. The goal is to provide cost-effective solutions for locally monitoring large-scale structures.

“We are contributing ideas to each other’s projects to make both technologies work,” said Simon Laflamme, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering (CCEE) at Iowa State.

The Iowa State researchers include Laflamme, CCEE Associate Professor Halil Ceylan, and structural engineering doctoral student Hussam Saleem. Researchers from the University of Perugia include Associate Professor Gianluca Cerni, doctoral student Alessandro Corradini, postdoctoral research associate Antonella D’Alessandro, laboratory technician Massimo Mancinelli, Professor Annibale Luigi Materazzi, Assistant Professor Filippo Ubertini, and Assistant Professor Luca Valentini.

Ubertini is the main Italy contact on this project. He has been a faculty member in University of Perugia’s civil engineering course (U.S. equivalent to “program”) since 2008, where he currently teaches bridge design and theory.

Their work has been summarized in a journal article, “Novel Nanocomposite Technologies for Dynamic Monitoring of Structures: a Comparison between Embedded and Surface Sensors,” published in March 2014 in Smart Materials and Structures. Further journal papers, a graduate student exchange, and other activities will be formed from this partnership.

The partnership also allowed CCEE graduate student Hussam Saleem to meet and conduct research with students from a foreign university. “I broadened my perspective on research to an international level, rather than what can only be accomplished in the U.S.,” Saleem said. He also enjoyed the cultural tours; his favorites being the historically preserved Assisi, Italy, and of course, the best pizza he’s ever eaten. “The pizza there tasted better than anything I ever had.” In addition to Iowa State, the Jordan native also has researched at University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, U.K.

The Iowa State University-University of Perugia collaboration received funding from the Iowa State University International Grants Program for 2013. The ISU Council on International Programs, based out of the Senior Vice President and Provost’s Office, sponsored the grants program. The goal is to emphasize global learning, discovery and engagement as outlined in the university’s strategic plan.