Short Course on Experimental Methods in Structural Engineering

Pavia, 7-11 October 2002

The present short course introduces the basic aspects of experimental methods focusing on the most common problems encountered when designing and performing tests. The course consists of 15 hours of lectures on theoretical aspects of experimental investigation and 15 hours of practical applications at the Laboratory of the Structural Mechanics Department (University of Pavia), where participants will be given the opportunity to make direct use of experimental facilities (transducers, acquisition systems, loading apparatus) and will be guided through the sequence of actions necessary to perform the example tests.

Experimental investigation constitutes a valuable technique when one seeks to improve the level of knowledge on issues of material response and structural performance. Indeed, structural testing does become particularly indispensable when the numerous uncertainties in material behaviour, structural geometry and boundary conditions render strenuous a reliable numerical simulation of the response of structural elements.

Experimental investigation consists of tests performed on prototypes that simulate in each aspect the real world. The methods range from quasi-static to real-time dynamic loading using shaking tables for laboratory testing or ambient/forced vibrations loading in the field. In addition, the last two decades have also witnessed the introduction of a hybrid pseudo-dynamic method whereby, at each time step, the dynamic loads (horizontal forces) are numerically computed and then statically applied to the model.

With the above in mind, the present short course introduces the basic aspects of experimental methods focusing on the most common problems encountered when designing and performing tests. Special attention will be given to the design and preparation of specimens, configuration of test apparatus (e.g. transducers) required for measuring the most significant parameters of structural response, digital data acquisition and storage, systems for applying force and displacement loads to the test specimens, control of the accuracy of measurements carried out, and, finally, comparison with results from numerical simulations.

Further details can be obtained by following the links below: