PhD Oral Exam - Marwa Hussein Ahmed, Building Engineering
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Bridge management system (BMS) is an effective mean for managing bridges throughout their design life. BMS requires accurate collection of data pertinent to bridge conditions. Non Destructive Evaluation methods (NDE) are automated accurate tools used in BMS to supplement visual inspection. This research provides overview of current practices in bridge inspection and in-depth study of thirteen NDE methods for condition assessment of concrete bridges and eleven for structural steel bridges. The unique characteristics, advantages and limitations of each method are identified along with feedback on their use in practice. Comparative study of current practices in bridge condition rating, with emphasis on the United States and Canada is also performed. The study includes 4 main criteria: inspection levels, inspection principles, inspection frequencies and numerical ratings for 4 provinces and states in North America and 5 countries outside North America. Considerable work has been carried out using a number of sensing technologies for condition assessment of civil infrastructure. Fewer efforts, however, have been directed for integrating the use of these technologies. This research presents a newly developed method for automated condition assessment and rating of concrete bridge decks. The method integrates the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) and infrared thermography (IR) technologies. It utilizes data fusion at pixel and feature levels to improve the accuracy of detecting defects and, accordingly, that of condition assessment. Dynamic Bayesian Network (DBN) is utilized at the decision level of data fusion to overcome cited limitations of Markov chain type models in predicting bridge conditions based on prior inspection results. Pixel level image fusion is applied to assess the condition of a bridge deck in Montreal, Canada using GPR and IR inspection results. GPR data are displayed as 3D from 24 scans equally spaced by 0.33m to interpret a section of the bridge deck surface. The GPR data is fused with IR images using wavelet transform technique. Four scenarios based on image processing are studied and their application before and after data fusion is assessed in relation to accuracy of the employed fusion process. Analysis of the results showed that bridge condition assessment can be improved with image fusion and, accordingly, support inspectors in interpretation of the results obtained. The results also indicate that predicted bridge deck condition using the developed method is very close to the actual condition assessment and rating reported by independent inspection.
The developed method was also applied and validated using three case studies of reinforced concrete bridge decks. Data and measurements of multiple NDE methods are extracted from Iowa, Highway research board project, 2011. The method utilizes data collected from ground penetrating radar (GPR), impact echo (IE), Half-cell potential (HCP) and electrical resistivity (ER). The analysis results of the three cases indicate that each level of data fusion has its unique advantage. The power of pixel level fusion lies in combining the location of bridge deck deterioration in one map as it appears in the fused image. While, feature fusion works in identification of specific types of defects, such as corrosion, delamination and deterioration. The main findings of this research recommend utilization of data fusion within two levels as a new method to facilitate and enhance the capabilities of inspectors in interpretation of the results obtained. To demonstrate the use of the developed method and its model at the decision level of data fusion an additional case study of a bridge deck in New Jersey, USA is selected. Measurements of NDE methods for years 2008 and 2013 for that bridge deck are used as input to the developed method. The developed method is expected to improve current practice in forecasting bridge deck deterioration and in estimating the frequency of inspection. The results generated from the developed method demonstrate its comprehensive and relatively more accurate diagnostics of defects.