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Clarkson University Professor Wins Award for Paper on Extending Highway Bridge Life

Clarkson University Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Steven F. Wojtkiewicz has been selected as one of the 2015 recipients of the Collingwood Prize for his research on extending the life of bridges.

Steven WojtkiewiczThis prestigious national award is presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to recognize authors under 35 years of age for their engineering projects or contributions to engineering knowledge.

Wojtkiewicz co-authored the paper "Lifetime Extension of a Realistic Model of an In-Service Bridge through a Response Modification Approach" with University of Minnesota Professor Arturo E. Schultz and lead author Andrew J. Gastineau, a former doctoral student of Wojtkiewicz and Schultz at University of Minnesota who now works at KPFF Consulting Engineers in Seattle, Wash.

The paper was published in the ASCE Journal of Engineering Mechanics in December 2013.

"The motivating problem is we have all of these bridges in this country that are in need of repair or eventual replacement," he said. "They're not in imminent danger of failing, but there is a large portion of the bridge inventory in the country that is approaching or has already exceeded its intended design life."

Replacing this aging infrastructure across the nation would cost billions of dollars, so engineers are trying to find a more affordable solution. Wojtkiewicz is investigating an approach that would extend the fatigue life of vulnerable steel bridges through a response modification apparatus, consisting of a mechanical amplifier and a response modification device.

The use of a mechanical amplifier allows for a more efficient and less intrusive apparatus to provide the required response modification forces imparted to the bridge for increased bridge life. Wojtkiewicz's paper examines the properties of the device to determine how to best alleviate stress at critical locations on the bridge.

"If we could reduce how much those locations are stressed, we can extend the life of the bridge in a cost effective way," he said.

The Collingwood Prize was instituted and endowed in 1894 by Francis Collingwood, a former secretary of ASCE. The prize is administered by the Committee on Younger Members through the Honors and Awards Program.

"It's always nice to be recognized for the potential practical implications and impact of your work," Wojtkiewicz said. "This work had theoretical aspects, but ultimately it was aimed at filling a real pressing and practical need in bridge engineering."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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