Robert J. Connor

Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of CAI and S-BRITE

Purdue University
Lyles School of Civil Engineering
550 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2051
Phone (765) 496-8272
Other Phone (765) 496-8272
Fax (765) 494-9886
Office HAMP 4115 / BOWN 1024
PhD, Lehigh University, 2002
MSCE, Lehigh University, 1996
BSCE, Drexel University, 1990
Specialty Group(s)
Research Interests
Fatigue and fracture of steel structures, field testing and remote monitoring of structures, fatigue and behavior of sign, signal, and high-mast lighting structures, load distribution and dynamic response of highway and railroad bridge structures, robust sensing and data acquisition systems, large scale structural testing in real time, bridge expansion joint system, and historic structures and materials.
profile photo
Selected Research Projects

NCHRP Project 12-82 "Developing Reliability-Based Bridge Inspection Practices" PHASE I & II
Professor Connor is a Co-PI with Professor Glenn Washer at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. This is PHASE II of the original project, which began in June of 2009 will have tremendous impact on the United States Infrastructure as it will present a new paradigm for the inspection of highway bridges in the United States. Specifically, a reliability-based approach to determine the frequency and scope of inspections is presented that considers bridge design characteristics, age, materials, and existing condition in a systematic analysis process. The framework being researched utilizes a semi-qualitative analysis of various risks and capability factors to provide a practical, implementable methodology that capitalizes on the vast experience and expertise of bridge owners. The proposed approach is flexible and evolutionary such that developing data, methods, and technologies can be incorporated in the future. The capabilities of inspection technologies, including Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) techniques, for mitigating identified risks and ensuring reliability of the inspection process is also considered in the analysis. This flexible methodology allows bridge owners to identify inspection intervals based on the specific characteristics of the bridge and the intensity of the inspection process. Phase II involves pilot testing the proposed methodologies is three to five states.

TPF- 5(238) Design and Fabrication Standards to Eliminate Fracture Critical Concerns in Two Girder Bridge Systems
This is pooled fund study involving FHWA, AISI, Army Corps of Engineers, FHWA, IN, IA, ID, MN, NC, OR, VA, WI. Two girder bridge systems, as well as other non-redundant systems, were developed in the two decade period starting in the 1950's. Unfortunately, knowledge of the fatigue and fracture limit states was not sufficiently advanced to avoid problems in service. Since the 1970s, there have been tremendous advances in materials, fatigue analysis, fracture mechanics, fabrication techniques, and inspection. This project will revisit the concept of Fracture Critical Bridges in the light of the advances that have been made over the last 35 years. In addition, the project will establish guidance that provides a high level of bridge safety that can then form the basis for in-service inspection decisions. The results of the research will be transformative with respect to the steel bridge industry if fully implemented. Dr. William Wright of Virginia Tech is Co-PI on the project.

TPF- 5(253) Evaluation of Member Level Redundancy in Built-up Steel Members
This is pooled fund study involving FHWA, AISI, Army Corps of Engineers, FHWA, IA, IN, MN, NY, OR, WI. This study will focus on establishing the fatigue and fracture performance of existing rivet and new bolted built-up bridge components after one of the components fails. The results will be used to establish rational field inspection criteria for these members, develop qualitative assessment and design tools, and result in more economical and robust steel members and bridges.

NCHRP Project 12-87 - Fracture-Critical System Analysis for Steel Bridges
Dr. Connor is Co-PI with Professor William Wright of Virginia Tech (VT is the lead institution) on this project. The objectives of this research are to (1) develop a methodology to quantify when a steel bridge system is considered FC based on loads, existing conditions, material properties, and bridge configurations, and (2) recommend AASHTO specifications using the methodology in the design of new bridges and the evaluation of existing bridges.