Welcome to the online home of the Fahnestock Research Group within CEE at Illinois.  Led by Prof. Larry Fahnestock, and collaborating with colleagues at Illinois and other universities, the group conducts research broadly related to behavior, design and performance of large-scale structural systems.  We employ laboratory and field testing in conjunction with analytical and numerical models to illuminate critical aspects of behavior that inform advances in system configurations and design methods, ultimately leading to superior performance that contributes to infrastructure resiliency and sustainability.  Research topics span across buildings and bridges, moderate and high seismic design, low and high ductility response, service and extreme load conditions.  Current projects are sponsored by the National Science Foundation, American Institute of Steel Construction, Illinois Center for Transportation and Illinois Tollway.  This site provides a brief overview of the group activities, so please inquire for more details about anything posted here.

NASCC Next Week

NASCC: The Virtual Steel Conference will be held next week, April 12-16, 2021.  NASCC includes multiple specialty tracks, including the SSRC Annual Stability Conference, and registration to the entire NASCC is free for students.

On Tuesday (April 13), Larry Fahnestock will be part of an international team presenting the session “A Frame-Spine System with Force-Limiting Connections for Seismic Resilience,” and on Thursday (April 15), Aradhana Agarwal will present her paper “Parametric Evaluation of Multi-Tiered Ordinary Concentrically Braced Frames under Seismic Loading,” in the Stability under Seismic Loading session of the SSRC ASC.  Tune in to learn more about these important advances in seismic stability, along with many other great presentations.

Zhou to Speak at SEI Illinois Webinar

On March 25, Sunny Zhou (PhD student) will be speaking about her research at the SEI Illinois Chapter Webinar: Innovative Structural Engineering Research Spotlight.  This webinar will feature three University of Illinois structural engineering PhD students, and registration is free for all students.  Sunny is working on a major field monitoring campaign and she will be presenting on early results for two instrumented skewed steel I-girder bridges.

SEI Illinois Chapter – March Webinar

Sunny Zhou at Mattis Avenue Bridge over I-57

Tao Admitted to PhD Candidacy

Congratulations to Zhuoqi Tao on passing the structural engineering qualifying exam and being admitted to candidacy in the PhD program!  Zhuoqi is studying innovative methods for seismic stability and damage control in steel building systems as part of the NSF-funded project Collaborative Research: Frame-Spine System for Seismic-Resilient Building Performance.  His recent work contributed to a unique full-scale four-story building test that was conducted at E-Defense in December 2020.

IAB Field Monitoring Paper

A paper on field behavior of integral abutment bridges has been published in the ASCE Journal of Bridge Engineering:

LaFave, J.M., Brambila, G., Kode, U., Liu, G. and Fahnestock, L.A. “Field Behavior of Integral Abutment Bridges under Thermal Loading,” Journal of Bridge Engineering, ASCE, April 2021, 26 (4): 04021013. dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)BE.1943-5592.0001677

The work described in this paper was part of the project Analysis of Superstructures of Integral Abutment Bridges, which was sponsored by the Illinois Center for Transportation and the Illinois Tollway.

Bridge Monitoring Started

The bridge instrumentation systems on two new Mattis Avenue bridges in Champaign, over I-74 and I-57, are now installed and collecting data.  Monitoring over the next several years will provide new knowledge about behavior under daily traffic loading and longer-term structural response due to seasonal temperature changes.  This field data collection program is part of Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) Project R27-194: Evaluation of Spatial and Temporal Load Distribution in Steel Bridge Superstructures, which was recently featured online by ICT and CEE.  Thanks to Sunny Zhou (Ph.D. student and lead graduate research assistant) and the dedicated research team for their hard work over the last few months to reach this major milestone!

Testing at E-Defense

This week – as part of the NSF-funded project “Collaborative Research: Frame-Spine System with Force-Limiting Connections for Low-Damage Seismic-Resilient Buildings” –  researchers from the University of Illinois, Lehigh University, Oregon State University, Kyoto University, Hokkaido University and E-Defense conducted full-scale building earthquake simulations on the shake table at the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center (E-Defense).  The four-story building employed a novel low-damage structural system and the building was furnished with hospital fixtures and equipment to evaluate protection of occupants and building contents.  The testing program concluded on December 17 with an earthquake simulation using an input acceleration record from the 1995 Kobe Earthquake (100% JMA Kobe video linked).  Due to the pandemic, researchers from the U.S. could not visit Japan for the tests, but with excellent communication and dedicated colleagues in Japan, the program was completed successfully!

Prof. Kurata (Kyoto University), Prof. Okazaki (Hokkaido University) and Dr. Kawamata (E-Defense) with Four-Story Test Building at E-Defense

Bridge Instrumentation in Progress

As part of Project R27-194: Evaluation of Spatial and Temporal Load Distribution in Steel Bridge Superstructures, sponsored by the Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT), instrumentation is currently being installed on two new bridges on Mattis Avenue in Champaign, over I-74 and I-57.  Subsequent monitoring over several years will provide new knowledge about behavior under daily traffic loading and longer-term structural response due to seasonal temperature changes.  This four-year grant is being led by Larry Fahnestock (PI), Jim LaFave (Co-PI) and Ph.D. student Sunny Zhou.

Strain Gage Installation at Regal Industrial Corporation

Placement of Instrumented Girders for Mattis Avenue Bridge over I-57

Instrumentation Installation at Mattis Avenue Bridge over I-57


New Research Project on Damaged Steel Girders

The Illinois Center for Transportation has funded a new research project to study damaged steel bridge girders.  R27-225: Strength and Serviceability of Damaged Steel Girders will develop fundamental understanding of damage in steel bridge girders due to vehicle strikes and translate that knowledge into a framework for structural inspection, assessment, and decision-making.  The research is being conducted by PI Larry Fahnestock and Co-PIs Ahmed Elbanna and Jim LaFave.

Alumni Spotlight – Steelman Promoted at Nebraska

Congratulations to Josh Steelman (PhD, 2013) for his recent promotion to Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln!  Prof. Steelman’s areas of professional and research interest include: structural risk and reliability at the component, structure, and regional levels; response of structures to extreme events and innovative methods for structural protection; experimental investigation of structural response; performance-based evaluation and design of structures.  He is involved with the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and is the PI for a new NCHRP project related to railing collision loads.

Zhou Passes Prelim

Congratulations to Siang (Sunny) Zhou on passing her PhD preliminary exam!  Sunny is co-advised by Prof. Larry Fahnestock and Prof. James LaFave, and she is studying superstructure response and load distribution in skewed steel girder bridges under thermal and traffic loading as part of a project sponsored by the Illinois Center for Transportation.  Best wishes to Sunny as she continues her research!