Archive For The “Research Experiences” Category

Day 19-21 – August 1st – 3rd

Thursday and Friday were two days of hard work to get good results for the student competitions and organize the final presentation. We divided the tasks based on each member strengths. Heekun worked on system identification for both problems using structural system identification (SSI). Alban and Chiara did system identification with the frequency domain decomposition (FDD) approach and identified damage in the frame with frequency decay, changes in insterstory drift and COMAC index. Junchang and Yi-Xiao helped with the design of the structural health monitoring systems. Paolo, Lefteris and I worked on the model updating of the pedestrian bridge using SAP2000 and MATLAB.

Saturday was the last day of the event, Joey found appropiate to play "Eye of the Tiger" as celebration for all the times we used the Borgia steps.

The 10 groups presented all the results of hard work during the past weeks. It was very interesting to see all the different approaches and strategies implemented to solve the same tasks assigned to everyone. People used different softwares and calculation methods for system identification, model updating and damage detection. Also, the design of the structural health monitoring systems were different in all the groups.

Afterwards, Dr. Vincenzo Gatulli made the final remarks of the summer school, it was a very successful event where we all learned a lot about smart structures, participated in experiments, made a lot of friends all around the world, discussed a lot about our research and we could see several beautiful places of the eternal city.

The winners of the Benedettini fellowships were announced as a recognition of outstanding students with proficiency in structural dynamics and health monitoring. Four students were chosen: Giacomo Bernagozzi, Alban Kita, Panagiotis Martakis and Antonello Ruccolo. Congratulations to all of them, specially my team lider Alban!

Then, we proceeded with the winner of the group student competition. There was some deliberation time but group 9 took second place and our group, The Fantastic 4!, was announced as the winner of this year APESS. Probably no one in our team believed it because it took a couple of seconds to realize it was really us. We were definitely very happy with the result. Unfortunately Paolo could not be there for the pictures because he had to leave on Thursday.


The summer school was officially over, everyone took pictures and said their goodbyes. It was definitely exciting and a gratifying experience.

In the afternoon some of us still had some time available and we took the oportunity to take a last walk around Rome. We visited the house of the Supreme Court, the Castle Sant'Angelo and the Vatican.

Thanks to all the amazing lecturers, the organizers of these wonderful event and off course my advisor, Dr. Mariantonieta Gutierrez for giving me this incredible opportunity.

Thank you reading about this amazing experience in Rome. Until a next time!


Italy|Day 16-18 – July 29th – 31st

This last three days we had the last block of classes of the event. On Monday Dr. Filipe Magalhaes explained the basics about wind turbines dynamics and their vibration analysis, Dr. Hong-Nan Li talked about the use of fiber optical sensors for monitoring, Dr. Oreste Bursi talked about the use of metamaterials as wave manipulators for vibration control of structures,  and Dr. Marco Lepidi showed how metamaterials can be used as a vibration shield.

Tuesday only had two classes, Dr. Jean Dumoulin talked about the principles of thermography and how it can be used for non destructive testing of structures, and Dr. Marcus Perry showed us different applications of smart cement and concrete.

The last four classes on wednesday were about robotics and augmented reality. Dr. Stefano Genezzi talked about unmanned aerial inspection and how these can be used to create complete 3D models of structures. Dr. Fernando Castillo showed current robotic developments explaining their complexity and recent robot inspection technology. Dr. Erika Ottaviano talked about advances in robotic systems for inspections and showed some examples with biped mechanisms. Dr. Fernando Moreu explained how augmented reality can be used for structural health monitoring.

This week we have also made some progress on the projects of the student competition. We have used two different method for system identification, two approaches for model updating, and different strategies for damage identification.

This week we have had the usual, sandwitch from Lo Spaccio and playing some games at the hostel, even Monopoly that for some reason we ended up playing far too late.

Italy|Day 13-15 – July 26th-28th

On friday we had three classes. Dr. Dionisio Bernal talked about a new method for parameter estimation in model updating, this new approach is focused on obtaining the right target for the parameters and not on how to obtain the target. Dr. Zhang Chunwei talked about real application of active control such as the electromagnetic mass damper (EMD) and the hybrid mass damper (HMD) of the Canton Tower. Dr. Annamaria Pau talked about the dynamic characterization and structural health monitoring of the 30m tall Trajan Column, the Colosseum and the Basilica of Maxentius, which are part of the cultural heritage of Rome.

Later at night it was nice to do a 7k run around the Villa Borghese with my roomate Callum where we could see the temple of Asclepius, and a nice view of the Piazza del Popolo with the Vatican in the background.

Saturday was full of cultural visits. We started with the so much expected Colosseum visit, we had a guided tour inside where we heard all about the history of this iconic place. Later we headed to the Roman Forum where we saw the ruins of a lot of important ancient government buildings while we walked through the Via sacra, the main street in ancient Rome. Afterwards we visited the Capitoline Museum, we could appreciate a lot of sculptures, paintings and busts. It was really nice to see the Colossal statues, the statue of Venus, and the real statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Sunday was a day off where people could go sightseeing, specially the Vatican because the last Sunday of every month is free. Some of us stayed at the hostel to rest and enjoy some more food.

Italy | Day 12 – July 25th, 2019

Today we have the technical visit to the city of L'Aquila. We took a 2 hour bus to get to the city center and then we headed to the Aula Magna of the Deparment of Human Science of the University of L'Aquila. Dr. Vincenzo Gatulli gave as an introduction to the program of the day and gave an explanation of three projects: the CASE project about seismic isolated buildings, the reconstruction of the Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio, and the application of structural control system for the coupling of two buildings in the Faculty of Engineering located in Roio Hill. Later Professor Fabio Graziosi did a presentation about the INCIPICT project that consists in the implementation of experimental and advanced telecommunication technologies in structural health monitoring systems, building automation and enhancement of cultural heritage.

So, what exactly happened in the city of L'Aquila? In April 6, 2009 an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit the region of Abruzzo and 67000 people were homeless after all the damages to the structures. The city of L'Aquila was the most affected and needed reconstruction and rehabilitation of structures for housing and cultural heritage. The Italian and local governments developed and executed several projects, as the ones mentioned previously, to rebuild the city with smart structure technology.

We headed to the Hill of Roio and made our first stop in residential building that was part of the CASE project. This building is one of the almost 200 seismically isolated buildings that were built in just 8 months. These type of structures are built on a rigid slab that rests on rubber bearings. This building has 6 stories and it was erected on a 60m by 20m slab with 1m thickness that rests on MTS isolation system. The were a lot of other systems and types of structures but this is an example of the huge effort made by the local goverment to rebuild the city.

The second stop was at the Engineering Faculty of the University of L'Aquila that is also located at the Hill Roio. The buildings in this area were also heavily affected by the earthquake. Two of the buildings in the Faculty were coupled with fluid visco-elastic dampers in order to dissipate energy during high-intensity motions. The distribution of the dampers and type of connections were chosen based on the stiffness of the diaphragms of the buildings.

Later we had lunch at the cafeteria of the Faculty and could rest and play some games in the common area before heading to our next stop.

The third stop begun at the regional council of Abruzzo, this building is part of the cultural heritage of the city and it base isolated for its protection against earthquakes. Afterwards we headed to the Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio. The dome of this church collapsed during the earthquake so it was rebuilt with a lighter structure. The church is  constantly monitored with a structural health monitoring system.

We headed to the Palazzo Camponeschi, and as we were walking though the city we could observe a lot of structures that are still under the process of rehabilitation. In the palace we met the Rector of the University of L'Aquila, Paola Inveradi. She talked about the research achievements of the University and all the efforts required to execute the reconstruction process of the city.

Later we visited the Basilica San Bernandino and the Castle of L'Aquila.

Back in Rome we visited the central market where we tried Trapizzino and more Pizza!

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 Intelligence in SHM, Dr. Tomonori Nagayama described easy to use and low power consumption wireless sensors for monitoring of bridges, Dr. Yi Qing Ni explained 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 begun working on the student competitions. 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. We still have a lot of work ahead of us!

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


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 first 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 Smart Materials for Sensing and Actuation, Measurements 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 explained 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 monitoring 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 tasks for the group competition consist 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 opening 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.

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