CCEE graduate student published in “2016 Highlights of Measurement Science and Technology”

Austin Downey with a model of the sensors detailed in his paper. <i>Photo by Kate Tindall.</i>
Austin Downey with a model of the sensors detailed in his paper. Photo by Kate Tindall.

For second year running, structural engineer Austin Downey’s work makes the cut for highlights of prestigious scholarly journal

For the second year in a row, Measurement Science and Technology has selected the work of an Iowa State University (ISU) graduate student for its research highlights of 2016. Doctoral student Austin Downey is lead author of the article “Reconstruction of in-plane strain maps using hybrid dense sensor network composed of sensing skin.”

“Our research focuses on tools and techniques that are capable of detecting faults and failures in structural components, such as those that led to the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis …” Downey said. “The research will benefit those who manage our nation’s infrastructure by allowing them to focus their attention on the infrastructures that are in the greatest need.”

The article describes recent research—conducted by Downey, ISU Structural Engineering Associate Professor Simon Laflamme and University of Perugia Structural Design Associate Professor Filippo Ubertini—to develop a unique sensor system to monitor state of strain of a structure. Arranged in a network of thin film-like sensors, the system creates a layer of soft elastomeric capacitive (SEC) devices. The team has developed an algorithm to find boundary conditions that will enable the sensor system to define the difference between physically-sound and physically-compromised structures.

“Overall, the proposed algorithm is seen to effectively leverage the advantages of a hybrid dense network for application of the thin film sensor to reconstruct surface strain fields over large surfaces,” the researchers wrote in their article abstract.

Both Laflamme and Ubertini are co-authors of the article.

“Austin is an outstanding graduate student,” Laflamme said. “What makes him very successful is his great intellectual curiosity and desire to learn, attention to details, multi-tasking capabilities, cross-disciplinary training, and a very innovative mind.”

He’s also the type of graduate student who keeps busy, even when Laflamme isn’t in the lab.

“It is not unusual for him to come up with a creative idea, go talk to other faculty and students about it, and come back to me with a new project already half done before I’ve even heard about it,” Laflamme added.

In all, twenty-eight papers made the “Highlights of 2016.” To read more about this research, visit “SMART BRICK reduces risks from seismic events.”


Get more information about exciting research. Check ISU CCEE (Iowa State University Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering) out on Facebook, on Twitter, and on both the departmental and construction engineering LinkedIn pages. 

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