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AEC TECH NEWS: Marquette Universitys Smart Building provides a real-world look at concepts in action

Milford, Ohio — Integrated Test & Measurement (ITM), a provider of structural test and measurement engineering software and services, announced a “Smart Building” program in partnership with Marquette University. This initiative allows next-generation structural engineers to perform large-scale experiments and obtain real-time results using data collected on the very building in which they are learning. ITM was selected to provide the technology and services for the program.

The system is powered by ITM’s configurable iTestSystem software platform. The software allows users to organize, acquire and view important engineering data using National Instruments (NI) hardware.  Using iTestSystem, a building monitoring system was created to collect data from a weather station together with more than 120 strain gauge sensors installed along beams, braces and columns inside the Engineering Hall at Marquette University.

The system not only measures wind speed on the five story structure; it can actually “feel” the wind load during gusts and record its impact on the facility.  Data is broadcast in real time to anyone plugged into the servers through their mobile device. Observing the data allows students to understand how a building’s systems “share lateral load” during wind events.

In addition, instruments along support beams in the Engineering Materials and Structural Testing lab allow students to analyze moving loads as the crane moves around the bay. At the same time floor sensors measure the impact of people moving through the building.  This information will impact future building design and potential building code modifications.

Marquette’s Christopher Foley, Professor and Chair of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering said, “We want to show a steel design class how much we weigh as people and have them evaluate the models used for distributing load within the floor framing system. We can literally use the floor as a scale and even track movement through the building with these systems.  If you think about the potential broader impact of the use of this building as a teaching tool in degree programs related to structural engineering and for professionals working in analysis and design of buildings, I don’t think you can measure of that impact.”

ITM Founder and President Tim Carlier said, “Traditional classroom instruction was once limited to classroom lectures, labs and controlled experiments. Marquette is taking learning to a whole new level by literally transforming the classroom itself into a teaching tool. Students pursuing degrees in structural engineering, architecture, civil engineering, and related disciplines will benefit from this powerful and unique experience.  Moreover, this application has ramifications throughout civil engineering.  Similar iTestSystem-based applications can monitor stress, fatigue, and durability as it relates to buildings, bridges, and other structures. Data collected from these programs will advance the engineering and construction industry measurably.”