Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (IIS)

IIS offers smart, proactive solutions.

Smart Sensors: Doug Adams’ work in the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories aims to predict how and when structures will fail using prognostic techniques for sponsors such as the Army Research Office and Air Force Research Laboratory.

IIS research on smarter buildings, self-monitored environmental systems, and better managed transportation flows will make for a safer, more efficient world. IIS seeks to proactively make security, self-monitoring, and emergency response plans part of the forethought of environmental, transportation, and structural systems.

Intelligent Structural Systems, a subhead under IIS, incorporates the ideas behind self-diagnosing and even self-healing structures. In addition to wiring buildings for their own self-examinations, two other subheadings—Intelligent Environmental Systems and Intelligent Transportation and Logistic Systems—will look to bolster those infrastructures. Chemical and biological sensors, for example, could ensure the safety of drinking water. When coupled with wireless technology, optimally placed sensors could immediately detect accidental and intentional releases of hazardous contaminants. Likewise, a smart transportation and logistics system will increase security while deftly managing day-to-day flows for both passenger and freight traffic.

With research experts pulled from practically every academic corner of the Schools of Engineering, including aeronautics and astronautics, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering, Purdue is positioning itself as a frontrunner in the IIS field.

Damage Detection: Concrete undergoes substantial movement between the time it is placed and the time it begins to develop strength. Here, Guy Mazzotta, a civil engineering undergraduate student working with Jason Weiss, an assistant professor in civil engineering, performs experiments to quantify movements as the concrete changes from a semi-solid to a solid using a robotically controlled non-contact laser. This length change is linked with acoustic emission testing that is used to detect cracking for the development of life-cycle prediction models for long-term durability of the nation’s infrastructure.

“Work in these areas is interdisciplinary by its very nature, involving expertise found in many departments in the School of Science, as well as engineering,” says Jim Krogmeier, the professor of electrical and computer engineering. “My own work involves the application of information technology—particularly wireless communications and sensor signal processing—to the problems of IIS. This effort began with a small collaboration with civil engineers working in the transportation area and has grown with the support of the Joint Transportation Research Program and other agencies.”

Bowen Laboratory Will Allow for Advanced Research in Structural Analysis and Materials.

The Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research is providing a new research home for the interdisciplinary teams that will increase the IQs of next-generation buildings. “With 55,000 square feet of space, 14 faculty offices, three conference rooms, and space for 40 graduate students, this facility will be one of the largest and most advanced structural and materials testing facilities in the world,” says Fred Mannering, the professor of civil engineering. “The Bowen Lab will allow us to take a national leadership role in emerging new areas in structural analysis and materials such as composite systems, auto-adaptive media, seismic response and behavior, structural modeling and system performance, experimental mechanics, nondestructive testing, advanced sensor development and application, multi-scale modeling, and the application of advances in nanotechnology for structural evaluation and monitoring.”