Structural monitoring expert to meet with wind energy researchers

An award-winning researcher from California and long-time collaborator with the Los Alamos National Laboratory will speak here tomorrow about his efforts to help create the equivalent of “hurricane charts” that help predict when structures might fail.

Michael Todd, a professor in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California at San Diego, will discuss his research on developing structural health monitoring systems, and will also meet with UWindsor engineering researcher Rupp Carriveau to discuss how those systems might be used to monitor wind turbines for signs of fatigue and wear.

“I’ll be talking about how to incorporate uncertainty in the design process of structural health monitoring systems,” said Dr. Todd, who earned his PhD from Duke University and has been working with the national defense lab since 2003. “It’s a highly uncertain process. There are a lot of things you don’t know.”

Using fiber-optic and radio frequency identification sensor technologies, Todd creates "smart structures" that continually provide on-line data about their own health and performance, making it easier for the owners and operators of those structures to make decisions about upgrades, repairs or simply taking them off line.

Until now most of his work has been in the aerospace sector, but with rapid growth in renewable energy in Ontario, he’s hoping to work with Dr. Carriveau on monitoring wind turbines here. An expert in the area of renewable energy, Carriveau currently works with a number of local wind farms on monitoring the integrity of their turbines in order to diagnose signs of trouble before they fail.

“The first phase would be to get the diagnostics in place, and the second step would be to take all of that diagnostic information and put it in to a predictive model so that they’ll have a better sense of when those structures might begin to fail,” Todd said.

Todd will speak on May 10 at 11 a.m. in room 3000, Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation.