GAITHERSBURG, MD.—The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced nine awards for new research projects to develop advanced sensing technologies that would enable timely and detailed monitoring and inspection of the structural health of bridges, roadways, and water systems. The awards are the first to be made under NIST’s new Technology Innovation Program (TIP), which was created to support innovative, high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need where the government has a clear interest because of the magnitude of the problems and their importance to society.

The cost-shared awards initiate as much as $88.2 million in new research over the next five years on structure monitoring and inspection technologies, $42.5 million of it potentially funded by TIP.

Following are summaries of the 2008 TIP research projects:

  • an extensible and self-powered sensor network using a peer-to-peer communication protocol for nondestructive evaluation and health monitoring of bridges, buildings, pipelines, and other major infrastructure components;
  • an economical, fiber-optics-based system for monitoring the structural health of large infrastructure elements such as bridges or pipelines using light pulses traveling down a cable to provide high-resolution, localized identification of both static and dynamic conditions without the need for installing large networks of discrete sensors;
  • a deep-penetrating scanning system based on ultrawideband radar for inspecting buried infrastructure such as pipelines, tunnels, and culverts that can detect fractures, quantify corrosion, and determine the presence of voids in the surrounding soil;
  • a nondestructive technology for early detection of corrosion in reinforced concrete structures;
  • a system based on instrument packages that can be installed on a wide variety of private and public vehicles to assess the conditions of bridges and roadways through several different and complementing methods at regular driving speeds during the course of ordinary use of the vehicles;
  • a system that continuously monitors the structural health of bridges using wireless sensors that "harvest" power from structural vibration/wind energy and assembles data from a variety of sensors for interpretation through damage assessment/reliability algorithms;
  • a monitoring and inspection system for pipes and pipe networks in water and wastewater infrastructure systems using wireless sensor nodes incorporated in an advanced Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system;
  • a comprehensive system for monitoring and assessing the structural health and integrity of major infrastructure elements such as bridges on a regional basis, with innovations ranging in scale from "smart material"-based sensors at the level of individual structural components up through structure-level data integration and interpretation to a web-based system for information aggregation and decision support at the regional level; and
  • a pair of complementing sensor networks for bridge inspection, including an active, self-powered system for continuous monitoring for cracks or defects in fracture critical bridges and a passive system for monitoring corrosion in reinforced concrete bridge decks.

A TIP white paper—Advanced sensing technologies for the infrastructure: Roads, highways, bridges, and water systems—is available on the NIST website at Additional information on the Technology Innovation Program and the nine projects is available at