August 12, 2020
Ultrasound. Ground penetrating radar. Thermal imaging. You probably don’t think of these Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE) technologies as necessary tools for bridge inspections. But Glenn Washer, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has conducted research that proves these technologies greatly enhance condition assessment of bridges, leading to improved inspections that help prevent accidents and collapses.
In addition to teaching and researching NDE, Washer has given of his time as a volunteer to increase the innovation and effectiveness of NDE within the bridge and highway industry.
For his many volunteer efforts, the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) awarded Washer the 2020 William Via Bridge NDT Lifetime Service Recognition.
Service To ASNT
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized in this way by ASNT,” Washer said. “Bill Via was an early mentor and supporter of my research, so it is especially rewarding to receive an award that recognizes his long history of dedication and leadership in the community.”
Washer has volunteered for several committees and publications with ASNT over his 30-year career, including being chair of its infrastructure committee. He has also co-chaired annual conferences, authored publications and continues to serve as a guest editor for the society’s monthly periodical. And Washer testified before Congress regarding the use of NDT technologies for bridges after the Minneapolis Interstate 35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in 2007.
“This is a significant accomplishment in the field of nondestructive evaluation and speaks to the long-term contributions Glenn has made to the field,” said Civil and Environmental Department Chair Praveen Edara.
Making Infrastructure Last Longer
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) strongly supports Washer’s research on ways to improve bridge safety, including using thermal imaging technologies and risk-based inspection methods.
Risk-based inspection is a new line of thought for bridge inspection that seeks to optimize resources to improve bridge safety. Traditionally, workers performed bridge inspection on a calendar-based cycle. They treated all bridges the same regardless of age, condition or durability characteristics.
“MoDOT is leading the national effort to study the implementation of risk-based inspection through our research. This research will set the standard for the future on how to implement this important new technology,” Washer said.
Along with risk-based inspection, Washer and his team are performing research in transient thermal imaging, ultrasonic crack detection, and ultrasonic stress measurement.
“These technologies allow for the detection of damage in its embryonic stages. Then, rapid, inexpensive repairs can be made to extend the life of bridges and reduce traffic congestion caused when major repairs are required,” Washer said.
As Washer continues to perform research, he remains committed to NDE and NDT methods to help solve transportation issues.
“I think this research is critical to the future of maintaining the aging infrastructure and ensuring safety of bridges and other structures,” Washer said.