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Didem Ozevin Wins Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Civil and Materials Engineering Professor Receives $500,000 Grant to Research Safer, More Resilient Structures

By David Staudacher, UIC

Didem Ozevin, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Materials Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been selected to receive the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award is the most prestigious honor for up-and-coming researchers in science and engineering. Along with the highly-competitive award, Ozevin will receive a $500,000 grant from the NSF to support her research for her project entitled “CAREER: Engineered Spatially Periodic Structure Design Integrated with Damage Detection Philosophy.”

“The research objective is to empower civil engineers to design bridges and other critical structures that will naturally provide signals about its structural state with only a minimum amount of sensors installed,” said Ozevin. “This will result in a safer and more resilient infrastructure as new construction and retrofitting incorporates these designs.”

According to Ozevin, this is significant because critical structures have been failing without sufficient warning despite the fact that the cracks in the structures were already being inspected and monitored with the latest modern techniques. Her research has the potential to transform the field of structural engineering by detecting damage at the earliest stage.

Additionally, the educational impact of her research will include modifying existing steel and pre-stressed concrete design courses to introduce damage detection concepts to undergraduate students, developing Honors College research projects, involving high school and undergraduate students into research, and developing mentoring program for female civil engineering students.

“During the research, an acoustic based damage detection method will be introduced into the design stage by adding spatially periodic subsystems into structural elements,” said Ozevin. “Existing structures exhibit some localized periodicity such as perforated beams, and equally spaced bolts in steel connections where spacing is based on stress distribution and spacing requirements.”

The structural can be tuned periodicity to make the design behave as an acoustic metamaterial, which can be able to block, redirect, and strengthen propagating elastic waves released by newly formed crack surfaces in the deployed infrastructure. Local resonance in an acoustic metamaterial medium affects the elastic wave spectrum in a way that certain wave frequencies cannot propagate to the medium if the frequency falls within these stop bands.

“Once the periodicity is modified by damage, the elastic wave spectrum will change, and then structural damage can easily be detected as a disturbance of the normal resonant frequencies,” said Ozevin. “Highly narrowband and sensitive micro-mechanical transducers will be tuned to the stop band of the periodic subsystem and positioned strategically so a single sensor will be sufficient to detect the localized damage.”

The combined response of structural design and periodic behavior will be tested with analytical and numerical models and validated on laboratory scale structural tests.

The project period is from June 1, 2016 through May 31, 2021.

The NSF’s CAREER program offers support to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. These activities build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Learn more about Professor Ozevin’s research at UIC’s Department of Civil and Materials Engineering at Didem Ozevin.

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