Posts Tagged: Structures Lab

Disaster-proof: Major CivMin lab upgrade lets engineers design structures that can better withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis

Funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation will be used to acquire an adjustable,
multi-dimensional loading module and other equipment for the Structural Testing Facility


A new adjustable multi-dimensional (AMD) loading system will soon be added to U of T Engineering’s Structural Testing Facility. (Image: Myron Zhong)

An upgraded facility at U of T Engineering — one that is unique in the world — will let engineers test next-generation infrastructure designed to be resilient in the face of natural disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes.

A grant announced today from CFI’s Innovation Fund 2020 will fund a suite of new tools and equipment to be housed within U of T Engineering’s existing Structural Testing Facility. They will be used to design everything from elevated highways to high-rise residential buildings to nuclear power plants, including replacements for legacy structures across North America.

“Much of our infrastructure is decades old and needs to be replaced,” says Professor Constantin Christopoulos (CivMin), the project leader and Canada Research Chair in Seismic Resilience of Infrastructure.

“The scientific and engineering communities, along with governments and the private sector, are becoming increasingly aware of the inherent vulnerability of our infrastructure. We also need to design new structures to address new pressures, such as a rapidly growing Canadian population, and more frequent extreme weather scenarios due to a changing climate.”

The centrepiece of this new development is the world’s first fully movable, adjustable multidirectional, large-scale and large-capacity loading frame.

“This unique piece of equipment will allow structural elements and structural systems to be tested under more realistic loading conditions,” says Christopoulos. “We’ll be able to better simulate the complex effects of extreme loading events, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or tsunamis.”

The adjustable, multi-dimensional loading module will be capable of applying up to a total of 2,000 tonnes of force in six translational and rotational directions for specimens of up to eight metres tall and thirty metres long.

The project will also include new state-of-the-art sensing equipment and the redesign of 500 square metres of lab space. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.

To make full use of it, Christopoulos will be working with a large team of experts from within and beyond U of T Engineering. Project partners include U of T Engineering professors Oh-Sung KwonEvan BentzOya Mercan and Jeffrey Packer (all CivMin). This team is also collaborating with a team of structural engineering and large-scale testing experts at other leading North American facilities to develop, commission and use this unique equipment. Collaborating institutions include:

  • Western University’s WindEEE and Boundary Layer Wind Tunnels
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Sherbrooke
  • Polytechnique Montreal
  • University of Illinois

Once completed, the new facility will be used for research by 10 professors from U of T and their national and international collaborators. It is also expected that it will allow for dozens of unique graduate student research projects and industry tests every year once it is fully operational.

Together this team will be able to carry out a technique known as “distributed hybrid simulations.” This means that full-scale portions of real structures — such as concrete pillars or steel beams — will be tested simultaneously in each of these labs across North America.

By integrating all of these physical tests into a single numerical model, they can use the experimental feedback of each of the large-scale elements to more realistically simulate the response of the entire infrastructure system to extreme loading conditions. The data from the physical experiments will be integrated in real-time with models run using high-performance computers and the UT-SIM integration platform.

“This facility will enhance our capabilities not only here at U of T, and across Canada, but will position Canadian engineers as global leaders in the area of structural resilience” says Christopoulos. “It is a critical step toward designing the resilient cities of the future.”

By Tyler Irving

This article originally published on Engineering News

Trio of PhD candidates win international honours in video thesis competition

Video thesis competition winners CivE PhD candidates (L to R) Moniruzzaman Moni, Pedram Mortazavi and Xuguang Wang.

Three PhD candidates from the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering (CivMin) at the University of Toronto have won honours for their video thesis entries in an international competition.

Moniruzzaman Moni, Pedram Mortazavi and Xuguang Wang, all civil engineering PhD candidates, won three out of the 10 honours awarded for the “3-minute Thesis” video competition held by Multihazard Engineering Collaboratory on Hybrid Simulation (MECHS). MECHS, funded by the National Science Foundation in the U.S., made the announcement with a full list of categories and winning videos online.

All three U of T winners have Professor Oh-Sung Kwon as a supervisor, with Mortazavi having co-supervisors Professors Constantin Christopoulos and Kwon.

CivMin Professor Oh-Sung Kwon

CivMin Professor Constantin Christopoulos

One of the main research interests of Professor Kwon’s research group is on the development and application of hybrid simulation methods where diverse experimental specimens and numerical models are integrated to accurately simulate responses of structures subjected to extreme loads. As part of the research program, the research group has developed the UT-SIM (Simulations for Structural Resilience​) framework through which various numerical and/or experimental tools can be seamlessly integrated.

In the early development, the main focus of the framework was to simulate structures subjected to earthquake excitation. In the past five years Prof. Kwon’s research group has expanded the framework such that structures subjected to fire or wind loads can be simulated. Some of the work is performed within the Department’s large indoor Structures Lab, which enables full-scale testing of building components.

CivE PhD candidate Moniruzzaman Moni‘s entry, titled “Real-time aeroelastic hybrid simulation of a base pivoting model building in a wind tunnel,” was selected from a large pool of entries as a winner in the “Creativity” category.

CivE PhD candidate Pedram Mortazavi‘s entry, titled “Four-Element Hybrid Simulations on a Steel Structure with Cast Steel Yielding Connectors,” was selected as a winner in the “Novelty” category. Mortazavi’s work is in collaboration with Cast Connex.

Mortazavi has been honoured with awards before, and was just last fall awarded the G. J. Jackson Fellowship Award from the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction at the Canadian Steel Conference and awarded the Donald Jamieson Fellowship from the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering at the CSCE annual conference,


CivE PhD candidate Xuguang Wang‘s entry, titled “Development and Applications of Hybrid Simulation Method for Fire Testing, was selected as a winner in the “Technical” category.

While having three out of 10 winners of the competition from Professor Kwon’s group is impressive, he also had a hand a fourth winner’s work. A winner from Seoul National University in Korea is co-supervised by Prof. Kwon for his work on aeroelastic hybrid simulation of a bridge deck.


By Phill Snel

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