This Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grant in Engineering (BRIGE) provides funding for the development of a model-free signal-processing-based methodology for rapid damage detection in civil structures subjected to earthquake excitations. Advanced mathematical techniques for the analysis of nonlinear-nonstationary signals will be engaged to develop algorithms capable of identifying the occurrence and severity of damage from examination of the structural response. Initial validation and calibration of the algorithms will be performed using state-of-the-art nonlinear structural models that utilize fiber-based distributed plasticity elements capable of replicating the structural members' actual nonlinear hysteretic response including different types of failures. Small scale shaking table tests will be performed to further validate the algorithms developed. The educational and broadening participation activities aim to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in engineering. Such activities include shake table based structural design competitions/demonstrations at underserved pre-college schools in Puerto Rico and the development of a practicum course in signal processing and data analysis.
If successful, the results of this research will lead to improvements in the implementation of real-time structural health monitoring systems. This will have a direct positive impact in the coordination of post-earthquake emergency responses by local authorities. While the research program is designed to tackle the early damage detection problem in civil structures subjected to seismic loads, the fundamental knowledge developed will have an impact in any engineering or scientific discipline dealing with signal processing, data analysis, target/anomaly detection, damage simulation or health monitoring. The interdisciplinary nature of the research presents unique learning opportunities to our undergraduate and graduate students. The outreach activities will impact a large number of Hispanic pre-college students through the University of Puerto Rico Science on Wheels Educational Center.