UPDATED: Minneapolis tragedy: How engineering technology measures stress

Instrumentation, sensors and wireless can be used to examine structures and find weakness.

By Plant Engineering Staff August 2, 2007

In wake of the fatal Aug. 1, 2007, Minneapolis , MN , Interstate 35 bridge collapse , after recovery efforts are complete, investigations will begin to study the cause of the tragedy. Preliminary reports suggest that the bridge recently passed inspection, which may raise questions about engineering methods used for such inspections.

Engineering technologies helpful for structural testing include instrumentation and sensors that measure, record, and analyze corrosion, vibration, load, and metal stress and fatigue; wireless technologies that can help relay such data and information; and simulation software that can combine sensor input, design information, and historical data to help predict time to failure. Related information and sources from Control Engineering can be found here , and updated information from the staff at Design News is available here .