TUES Education (2011-2012)
A Multi-Institutional Classroom Learning Environment for Geotechnical Engineering Education
Principal Investigator: Usama El Shamy, Southern Methodist University (SMU)
Co-principal Investigators: Tarek Abdoun, Miguel Pando (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Flora McMartin (Broad-Based Knowledge, LLC)
This TUES (Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) award under the NSF DUE division is a “Type 1” project for over two years starting April 1, 2011. This project is a collaborative effort led by Dr. El Shamy at SMU that builds on the national investment in the George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). This work integrates state-of-the-art experimental and educational tools into the undergraduate education curricula by using web-based technologies that enable real-time video monitoring, tele-control, and execution of experiments. The project will provide students at three campuses (SMU, RPI, and UNCC) with new educational tools for better understanding of various theoretical geotechnical engineering concepts. The main goals of this project is to develop and pilot test education models utilizing the RPI-NEES centrifuge facility, visual observation of the response of soil and soil-foundation systems, use of instrumentation, interpretation of acquired data, and use of an interactive 3D data viewer for analyzing the measured response. Cross-university teams of students can access, interpret, evaluate and exchange relevant technical information via the Internet; thereby bringing major experimentation into geotechnical engineering classes.
Centrifuge experiments will be introduced in these courses to examine the stability of a slope and a shallow footing near this slope. It is estimated that three centrifuge experiments and one calibration test will be conducted between June 2011 and September 2012. The experimental setup consists of a slope made of dry sand and a shallow footing constructed near the slope. The footing material and dimensions should be determined such that it imposes a desired initial contact stress beneath the footing. The readily available tools at the RPI-NEES facility that will be used in this project, in addition to the centrifuge itself, include the rigid container with a front acrylic panel to view what happens to the model, displacement transducers to measure the displacement of the footing in the horizontal and vertical directions, a pressure sheet to measure the actual pressure under the footing, laser displacement sensors to track the deformation of the slope surface, and the in-flight robot to load the footing to failure. A high-speed digital camera along with a meshed container front acrylic panel will also be used to monitor the deformation of the slope through image processing (with the help of graduate students and staff). At least one of the experiments will make use of the in-flight shaker to show the seismic response of the footing and the slope. Lab space will be required for test preparation. Use will also be made of the tele-presence and tele-communication tools provided by NEESit as well as the interactive 3D data viewer at RPI-NEES for analyzing the measured response.
More information, pictures, and videos are available on our Experimental Soils Course page.