Archive For The “Research Experiences” Category

Italy | Day 9-11 – July 22nd-24th, 2019

The last three days we've had several classes. On monday Dr. Hui Li talked about the use of Artificial Inteligence in SHM, Dr. Tomonori Nagayama described easy to use and low power consumption wireless sensors for monitoring of bridges, Dr. Yi Qing Ni exapleined monitoring with big data and machine learning, he showed us some applications to bridges, buildings and tunnels.

This Tuesday, we started with our first classes about cultural heritage. Dr. Salvador Ivorra talked about diagnosis of historic constructions through SHM and showed us case studies of bell towers, and Dr. Dina D'Ayala showed us smart structural devices used for the protection of architectural heritage and gave us examples to prevent overturning of masonry walls. In the afternoon, Dr. Chung-Bang Yun gave us a lecture about smart infrastructure to improve resilience, some of the examples were the Hybrid Mass Damper on the Yokohama Landmark Tower in Japan and the TMDs and dampers in the London Millennium bridge. Dr. Alvaro Cunha explained the process and instruments required for dynamic testing of large infrastructure and talked about applications such as the study of the Millau Viaduct at the Commissioning Phase and dynamic testing at service face of Dom Luiz I Bridge.

Dr. Shirley Dyke taught the first class on Wednesday, she talked about Real-time Hybrid Simulation (RTHS), an efficient and economical testing method for structures. Dr. Carmelo Gentile showed us case studies using operational modal analysis (OMA) for SHM strategies for Cultural Heritage of structures. Dr. Walter Salvatore talked about bridge monitoring and Dr. Elsa Caetano explained the monitoring of cable structures.

These past three days my group has begun working on the tasks of the student competitions and it is good to know we already have some preliminary results from the system identification using the recorded data and a simplified finite element model of the pedestrian bridge but we still have a lot of work ahead of us!

We begun using the kitchen in the hostel to prepare some breakfasts and dinners. We have had a lot of pasta, somehow you can't get enough of it while being here and it tastes even better when it is prepared by an Italian friend.


Italy | Days 6-8 – July 19th and 21st, 2019

The ANCRiSST workshop also took place at the Faculty of Industrial and Civil Engineering. At the beginning we had three keynote lectures, the fisrt one was about bridge inspection with Dr. Hyung-Jo Jung, the second about metamaterials with Dr. Muamer Kadic, and the last one about base isolation systems with Dr. Antonello De Luca.

The event also had several sessions on Friday and Saturday about Smat Materials for Sensing and Actuation, Measurments and Health Monitoring, Response Prediction and Evaluation, Structural Control, Damage Detection, and Mechatronics and Automated Inspection. There were professors and students that exclusively attended the workshop, but the majority of the presentations were done by students from APESS.

In one of the sessions on Friday I presented my research about Structural Control and Optimization of actuators inside a structure. It was a really exciting and rewarding experience because it was my first oral presentation in an international event. This was also a great opportunity to network with professors and students.

During the workshop we also had a couple of social activities. On Saturday we went to the Forum of Augustus light show. In this event, we sat in front of the remains of the Forum of Augustus and we listened to the history of Augustus and Rome during his empire while the images and videos are displayed in a 15m tall wall.

On sunday we headed to Rome's Botanical Gardens where we could observe a lot of beautiful and interesting species.

This weekend was also a good opportunity to spend some time with friends and rest from all the academic activities. We ate pizza, pasta and gelato as you should while staying in Italy.  We also visited several iconic and famous places in the central area of Rome.

National Gallery of Ancient Art in Barberini Palace

Fontana di Trevi

Ponte Palatino

Piazza Venezia


Chiesa di Sant' Ignazio di Loyola

Italy | Day 5 – July 18th, 2019

Another day full of activities! We had four classes today. Dr. Yozo Fujino talked about bridge vibration and how to control it. Dr. Hoon Sohn explained smart sensing technologies applied to structural health monitoring (SHM) and talked about the importance of research of damage detection withouth baseline data. Dr. Keneth Loh talked about the Engineering of Multifunctional Materials and the way these can be used to design effective SHM systems because they have more than one engineering function, and Dr. Jerome Lynch talked about wireless technology  for SHM.

Lunch break was also fun with a sandwich from Lo Spaccio and a walk in the park of Colle Oppio next to the Colosseum.

Today is also the beginning of the international workshop ANCRiSST 2019, we had a welcome cocktail and a visit to the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli. We had a guided tour of the Basilica which is located next to the Faculty and it is home to Michelangelo's statue of Moses and the St. Peter's chains.

Italy | Day 4 – July 17th, 2019

Today we begun with a class about Bayesian logic and how it is applied in Smart Structural Elements. Dr. Daniele Zonta exaplained probabilistic logic, Bayes' rule and how this principles can be used to do damage detection when an element is built with sensors directly from the beginning.

The other two classes were taught by Dr. Branko Glisic. First we learned about fiber optics, its advantages and applications to design a structural health monitorgin system. Later we saw how long-gauge sensors can be used to detect properties at the macro-level of a structure.

At the end of the day, we had the second lab. We needed to measure the structural response of a steel frame for two different excitations, white noise with a shake table and impulse response with a hammer test. The test was repeated  for the structure without the braces to simulate damage. The measurements were done with accelerometers and with a high-speed camera. The task for the group competition consists in detecting damage in the structure with the obtained information, and propose a structure health monitoring system.

Italy | Day 3 – July 16th, 2019

Today we had three classes. The first one was taught by Dr. Yang Wang and he talked about structural dynamics and model updating. It was very interesting to learn about non-proportional damping because proportional damping does not always hold in practice. We also learned how to use an open-source MATLAB package for structural model updating ( Dr. Francesco Romeo gave us the second lecture, it was an introduction to system identification and modeling. He talked about basic assumptions for modeling, time and frequency domain, clasifications of systems based on input and ouput and operational modal analysis. We learned about different identification techniques and some applications. The third class was taught by Dr. Eleni Chatzi and it was about Kalman filters and its applications for real-time system identification. As a graduate student with civil engineering background it is good to understand the basics of the Luenberger Observer, the Kalman filter and its applications for damage detection.

At the end of the day we had our first lab. We divided in three groups to do the data acquisition of the pedestrian bridge. There were 6 different channels to capture ambient vibration for 20 minutes on the bridge. The sensors were located in different places and different directions (vertical and horizontal) in order to capture important modes of vibration.

With this information our group needs to identify frequencies and modes of vibration, develop a finite element model to do model updating, and propose a structural health monitoring system. I finally met all the members of my group (No. 4) to discuss work strategies and observe properties of the bridge such as structural system and support conditions. We also had to talk about a very important thing, the name of our group! We are now The Fantastic 4, I could not miss the opportunity.

Italy | Day 2 – July 15th, 2019

The official first day of the event! You could notice the excitement during breakfast. All our classes will be at the Faculty of Civil and Industrial Engineering of Sapienza, University of Rome. It is located far from the main campus but it is right beside the Colosseum! It is a 17 minute walk from the hostel and we could appreciate some beautiful places along the way.

Chiesa di Santa Susanna alle Terme di Diocleziano

Teatro dell'Opera

Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore

Faculty of Civil and Industrial Engineering

Cloister in the faculty

The event begun with the opnening remarks from one of the organization chair Dr. Vincenzo Gatulli. During these three weeks we will have 40 lectures in the topics of Structural Dynamics, Structural Control, Smart Structure Technology, and Structural Health Monitoring. We will have a technical visit to the city of L'Aquila where we will see applications of smart structure technology. We are a total of 87 students from different nationalities and different backgrounds. There is a group student competition based on two experiments that will be executed during the first week. In addition, there are several social events that we can attend and on July 18 - 21 we can attend the international workshop ANCRiSST 2019, where students and professors will be showing some of their research about smart structures technology.

Later we had our first lecture about vibration analysis, identification and control. Dr. Vincenzo Gatulli and Dr. Daniele Zonta taught about basic concepts of system identification, modeling and structural dynamics because we are going to use these concepts all summer school.

During lunch break, we were recommended to buy something from the university store (Lo spaccio) and go sit in from of the Colosseum. My roommate Callum and I got some sandwiches by pointing at them because we had no idea how to pronounce things, but all of them looked delicious. Then we headed to the Colosseum that was only 5 minutes away and the views are just fascinating.

In the afternoon we had two classes with Dr. Bill Spencer and he talked about types of sensors and how do they work, collection of digital data and basics about digital signal processing.

At the end of the day, Dr. Francesco Romeo explained the student competition. We will be divided in 10 teams of 8 or 9 members each, and we have to prepare a 15 min presentation for the end of the summer school about the results of two projects. The first one is about structural identification and monitoring of a pedestrian bridge, and the second is damage identification and health monitoring of a small scale steel frame.

Today I also met my third roommate Artur, he is a colleague of my other roommate Callum and for simplicity I am just going to say he is from Germany, his ancestry is very complex. We went out for some pasta and saw the famous Spanish steps.


Italy | Intro

2019 APESS – Asia-Pacific-Euro Summer School on Smart Structures Technology


Congratulations to Alejandro Palacio Betancur!

He is a participant for the summer school in Sapienza University of Rome, which is hosting the APESS 2019 in Italy from 15th July to 3rd August 2019.

APESS 2019 is an intensive three-week program of coursework, lectures, laboratory exercises, technical visit to L’Aquila and exciting non-academic activities in Rome, the Eternal City. During APESS 2019 students will attend lectures given by world-leading experts in Civil Engineering, Structural Dynamics and Control, Smart Structures Technology and Structural Health Monitoring.


Thailand – Day 8: June 11th, 2019



Hello my wonderful readers! 


Today is my last day in Thailand. It is also proposal time.

My group went second to present. The other presentations were great.

So what is this PRECHECS framework we are proposing to be NSF funded?

Keeping potentially impacted communities actively engaged in maintaining sufficient levels of preparedness over the long term when the destructive events have unpredictable time intervals between occurrences is a major problem in natural disaster management. Maintaining infrastructure such as evacuation shelters, warning systems, evacuation plans, and methods of communication with residents and visitors requires investment in time and money that stakeholders may feel is better used for short term community needs. In Thailand, cultural beliefs that fear talking about death, create barriers to planning for life-threatening disasters such as tsunamis. Areas dependent on tourism like Phuket, fear tourists will not visit if tsunami preparedness information is disseminated. One possible solution is to approach disaster management by engaging and educating the local stakeholders in the decision-making process of developing disaster management plans through humanitarian engineering and citizen science.

The PRECHECS, Preparedness Resilience and Engagement with Communities using Humanitarian Engineering and Citizen Science, framework will address gaps in our understanding of the situated nature of disaster management. Specifically, it will add to an understanding of the ways Thai culture may affect how a community perceives and engages with disaster preparedness. The project will incorporate concepts of humanitarian engineering and citizen science. Humanitarian engineering is the use of engineering to create, design, develop, improve, modify, or apply technologies to promote human welfare through social relationships (Passino, 2016).  Citizen science refers to any endeavor where nonscientists contribute to a scientific endeavor (Edwards, 2014).

Our presentation recieved great feedback from the faculty.

The PREEMPTIVE ASI program in Thailand will always hold a deep place in my heart. I learned so much, not only through a technical perspective, but also how to view natural disasters with a social sciences approach. We were able to build a diverse community of researchers across the Pacific Rim and beyond, who share a focused interest in understanding, promoting, and accelerating the adoption of protective systems.

Thank you Dr. Richard Christenson, Dr. Erik Johnson, and Dr. Gisele Ragusa for this amazing opportunity, and a BIG thank you to my advisor, Dr. Mariantonieta Gutierrez Soto for recommending me to take part in this amazing adventure.




Thailand – Day 7: June 10th, 2019



Hello my wonderful readers! 


Now that we got to have a free day to relax and get to know this beautiful Thai culture, it is now time to work! We were given classrooms to work in at Chulalongkorn University. Before lunch, we were given a tour of their Material Testing Lab in their Department of Civil Engineering Building.


We started the day off with a lecture by Dr. Steve Wojtkiewicz from Clarkson University presenting the “Role of Uncertainty in the Assessment of Structural Performance.

For the rest of the day was reserved for research and collaboration with our groups. My group Laura and Atcha split up the work and started to structure our framework created the acronym “PRECHECS,” Preparedness Resilience and Engagement with Communities using Humanitarian Engineering and Citizen Science.

Presentations are tomorrow! Each group will be given 10 minutes + questions to present and receive feedback from the faculty members.


At night a few people and I decided to explore the city of Bangkok a little. I tried the famous street food dish of roti, a wheat flour pan-fried bread stuffed with bananas stirred in with eggs topped with sweetened condensed milk, white sugar, and chocolate.



Thailand – Day 6: June 9th, 2019

Thailand- Day 6: June 9th, 2019


Hello my wonderful readers!


We are back in Bangkok ,but this time closer to the Chulalongkorn University Campus.

Today is a cultural day! Extremely excited and have been waiting for this day for awhile. Today we will be going to the historical city of Ayutthaya.

What is Ayutthaya?

The Historic City of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 until annihilated by the Burmese in 1767 and was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. Ayutthaya is now an archaeological ruin, characterized by the remains of tall prangs and Buddhist monasteries of monumental proportion giving an idea of the city’s past size and the splendor of its architecture. The city was at the focus point of three rivers and had a hydraulic system for water management which was technologically extremely advanced and unique in the world at the time.

Once an important center of global diplomacy and commerce, Ayutthaya was laid out according to a systematic city planning grid, consisting of roads, canals, and moats around all the principal structures. The Royal Court of Ayutthaya exchanged ambassadors far and wide, including with the French Court at Versailles and the Mughal Court in Delhi, as well as with imperial courts of Japan and China.


First, we visited: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon. “Wat” signifies a Buddhist temple. This was built in 1900 B.E. (Buddhist Era: an epochal year 0 from 11 March 543 BC, believed to be the date of the death of Gautama Buddha) by King U to accommodate the monks that once were ordained from Phra Wanratana Mahathera Bureau in Ceylon.


Then, we saw: Wat Phananchoeng Worawihan. This Budhist temple is famous for its 42 ft Buddha and was built 600 years ago.


Finally: We went to the Ayutthaya Historical Park which includes the following temples: Wat Mahathat (Budhha head in a tree), Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Phra Ram, and Wat Ratchaburana.


We finished the day with a boat tour down the Chao Phraya River.

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