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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Eslam Mohammed Abdelkader, Building Engineering

An Integrated Method for Optimizing Bridge Maintenance Plans

Date & time
Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



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.


Bridges are one of the vital civil infrastructure assets, essential for economic developments and public welfare. Their large numbers, deteriorating condition, public demands for safe and efficient transportation networks and limited maintenance and intervention budgets pose a challenge, particularly when coupled with the need to respect environmental constraints. This state of affairs creates a wide gap between critical needs for intervention actions, and tight maintenance and rehabilitation funds. In an effort to meet this challenge, a newly developed integrated method for optimized maintenance and intervention plans for reinforced concrete bridge decks is introduced. The method encompasses development of five models: surface defects evaluation, corrosion severities evaluation, deterioration modeling, integrated condition assessment, and optimized maintenance plans. These models were automated in a set of standalone computer applications, coded using in Matlab environment. These computer applications were subsequently combined to form an integrated method for optimized maintenance and intervention plans. Four bridges and a dataset of bridge images were used in testing and validating the developed optimization method and its five models.

The developed models have unique features and demonstrated noticeable performance and accuracy over methods used in practice and those reported in the literature. For example, the accuracy of the surface defects detection and evaluation model outperforms those of widely-recognized machine leaning and deep learning models; reducing detection, recognition and evaluation of surface defects error by 56.08%, 20.2% and 64.23%, respectively. The corrosion evaluation model comprises design of a standardized amplitude rating system that circumvents limitations of numerical amplitude-based corrosion maps. In the integrated condition, it was inferred that the developed model accomplished consistent improvement over the visual inspection procedures in-use by the Ministry of Transportation in Quebec. Similarly, the deterioration model displayed average enhancement in the prediction accuracies by 60% when compared against the most commonly-utilized weibull distribution. The performance of the developed multi-objective optimization model yielded 49% and 25% improvement over that of genetic algorithm in a five-year study period and a twenty five-year study period, respectively. At the level of thirty five-year study period, unlike the developed model, classical meta-heuristics failed to find feasible solutions within the assigned constraints. The developed integrated platform is expected to provide an efficient tool that enables decision makers to formulate sustainable maintenance plans that optimize budget allocations and ensure efficient utilization of resources.

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