Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

Degree Level



Civil Engineering


Kirk Grimmelsman

Committee Member

Brady Cox

Second Committee Member

Ernie Heymsfield


Applied sciences, Bridge assessment, Dynamic testing, Load rating, Modal analysis, Post-hazard evaluation


The objective of this thesis was to devise and refine Structural Health Monitoring methods and the associated quantitative characterization methods with the specific goal of enabling rapid and reliable safety evaluations of bridges following natural or manmade hazards. Presently, the safety and serviceability of these transportation infrastructure assets for use in emergency response and recovery operations are evaluated through on-site visual inspections of individual structures by teams of specially trained engineers or technicians; a process that is manpower-intensive, subjective, and slow. Specifically, the researcher was able to identify and evaluate strategies and procedures for using dynamic testing methods to rapidly and reliably characterize in-service structures both during their normal operation, and in the immediate aftermath of hazard events. These characterizations were compared using a modified load rating developed from the AASHTO specifications for bridge evaluation. The research program included laboratory investigations of this approach using two small scale physical model structures. The effectiveness of different dynamic testing and characterization strategies, different instrumentation schemes and data acquisition architectures, data processing and analysis approaches, and their optimal integration was systematically evaluated in the laboratory using a structural identification framework, and will be implemented in the future in a field study. Specifically, modal flexibility was the main comparison tool within the dynamic testing, given that it provides an accurate representation of the structure, and provides a global picture of the structural response.