Dr. Erin S. Bell
Associate Professor & Department Chair
Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of New Hampshire
Imagine a bridge crossing over a tidal estuary, a local landmark that deeply resonates with an entire community; a bridge that is a living laboratory for researchers, engineers, future engineers and the general public. This bridge is instrumented with sensors that capture structural performance, traffic patterns, environmental conditions, the behavior of innovative bridge design elements and enable and promote community engagement. The information collected with these sensors is shared with researchers, bridge designers and the bridge owner, but also, where appropriate, with K-12 classrooms and the public. The bridge sensor network and information communication system will be powered by a locally available renewable energy resource, tidal energy. This bridge has the capability to advance all aspects of community engagement with infrastructure, clean energy innovation in tidal energy conversion, structural and environmental impact and social perception of our engineered environment. The sensing network, including structural response sensors, underwater instrumentation and cameras, and weather stations, allows for a complete system-based evaluation, including the impact of the tidal turbine. This “smart bridge” provides a platform for continued innovation of sensor, communication and energy technologies. This is the vision behind the Living Bridge project.
Dr. Erin Santini Bell is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Bell received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Structural Engineering both from Tufts University. Her research is in the area of structural health monitoring and bridge condition assessment including structural modeling, instrumentation, field testing and performance and remaining life prediction. Dr. Bell has led several research project related to field instrumentation and structural performance assessment funded by the Federal Highway Administration, New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Massachusetts Port Authority and the National Science Foundation. She is the registered professional engineering in the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.