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Smart Structures in Civil Engineering and Architecture

Speaker: Andrea Del Grosso, University of Genoa
Series: CEE Departmental Seminars
Location: Bowen Hall Auditorium
Date/Time: Monday, October 1, 2012, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Andrea Del Grosso
In the last twenty years the term “smart” has been associated to innovative structural systems possessing sensing/responding capabilities, conceptually like biological systems. Several categories of smart structural systems have been proposed, studied and transferred into practice in different fields of engineering. Monitored structures, active control, adaptive or morphing structures are amongst these categories. Automotive and aerospace engineering have the most profited from the smart structure concepts.

In civil engineering, the developments of the concept have been much slower because of different reasons and only structural health monitoring and hybrid/active control have really been partly transferred into practice, while other systems still remain at the stage of studies and experiments. However, evolutionary trends in architecture and the need of including in the design of buildings and infrastructure more extensive targets like functional optimality, sustainability, energy saving and energy harvesting, are suggesting that the smart structure concept will the more and more pervade the civil engineering and architectural fields.

After reviewing the most important issues in the development of the smart structure concepts in civil engineering and architecture, the major developments associated with adaptive (kinetic) structures technology will be illustrated. In particular, the development of adaptive internal and external building envelopes (skins) will be explained, and the main characteristics of a control strategy suitable for the management of such systems will be also presented. Such strategy, called “finite-state control strategy”, is based on the a-priori definition of optimal configuration states and on the individuation of the best trajectories leading from one configuration to another.


Prof. DEL GROSSO, born in 1945, graduated cum laude in 1968 in Civil Engineering at the University of Genoa, and in the same year started his university career. He has been assistant professor and associate professor of Steel Structures, lecturing Advanced Steel Structures and Structural Design Methods from 1973 to 1986. From 1986 he is full professor and lecturer in Structural Engineering, teaching steel structures, reinforced concrete structures and structural design.

He dedicated his research activity, witnessed by more than 170 papers, mostly published in international conferences and journals, to various aspects of structural engineering, starting with the application of finite element methods in structural mechanics, with particular emphasis to non-linear dynamics and seismic soil-structure interaction. He also dedicated many research efforts in the area of seismic engineering, including vulnerability, risk analysis and microzoning.

In the last twenty years he is working in the field of smart civil structures, and in particular on active structural control, adaptive structures and structural health monitoring. He has organised several international conferences and acted as member of scientific committees, session chairman and invited speaker in many national and international congresses. He is member of several scientific/technical Societies, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Associate Editor of the Journal “Smart Materials & Structures” and member of the Editorial Board of the “Journal of Structural Control & Health Monitoring”. He is full member of the Ligurian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Prof. Del Grosso has also covered administrative positions in the University of Genoa: he has been vice President of the University Computing Centre, Chairman of the Department of Structural Engineering, Chairman of Civil Engineering, Member of the University Board of Directors and Member of the Rector's Staff, in charge for building development.

Besides the academic activity, Prof. Del Grosso is also acting as professional consultant. He has been partner, Technical Director and Vice-President of D'APPOLONIA S.p.A. (now consultant and Technical Director), one of the major engineering firms in Italy, and acted as consultant, designer or construction supervisor of several civil, nuclear and infrastructure projects. Prof. Del Grosso has been expert member of the Technical Council of the Italian Ministry of Public Works (Consiglio Superiore dei Lavori Pubblici) for nearly ten years, participating in the Sections devoted to port and coastal engineering and to transportation infrastructures.