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PHOTOS: Sharon Wood Shares Plans for Monitoring Deteriorating Concrete Bridges at Engineering Rockwell Lecture

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Audrey Grayson

If you drive in the U.S., the chances are pretty high that you’ve driven over a structurally deficient bridge at some point or another. In fact, over two hundred million trips are taken each day across deficient bridges in America’s 102 largest metropolitan regions, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.

Sharon Wood, Dean of the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering and member of the National Academy of Engineering, has a plan for monitoring corrosion in concrete bridges around the world – a plan she shared with the UH Engineering community at the Engineering Rockwell Lecture held this month.

Wood's lecture, titled "Passive Sensor Platform for Monitoring Corrosion in Concrete Structures,” described a novel sensor platform developed by her research team at UT Austin that can detect corrosion within concrete structures such as bridges. The sensor platform can cost-effectively and non-destructively detect the initial stages of corrosion within concrete.

The need for such a monitoring platform in America alone is dire – one in nine bridges in the U.S. is rated as structurally deficient. ASCE gives America’s bridges an overall C+ grade, estimating that a $76 billion investment is needed to bring bridge infrastructure up to code.

Wood is an expert on the design and behavior of concrete structures. Early in her career, she studied the earthquake response of buildings, while more recent work is related to evaluation of reinforced and prestressed concrete bridges and development of passive sensors to detect the onset of corrosion in concrete structures.

Please click here to view photos from the event!

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