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Myths and fallacies in engineering structures


Course Outline

1. History of strength of materials (4 hours)
Greeks and Romans
XVII century – Galileo, Hooke, Mariotte, Euler and Lagrange
XVIII century – Coulomb, retaining walls, arches
XIX century – Navier, Cauchy, Poisson, Jourawski, Winkler
XIX century – De Saint-Venant, Mohr, Castigliano, Rayleigh

2. Understanding of earthquakes and dynamic actions (2 hours)
Ancient perceptions on earthquakes from the origin to the Age of Enlightenment
Robert Hooke and the theory of elasticity
Galileo, Newton and the law of inertia
Tectonics, waves, statistics and probability
Acceleration, velocity, displacement
• Hazard disaggregation
• EQ return period vs design life
• Code zonation vs site specific parameters
• Time dependent characterization of hazard
• Probabilistic vs deterministic characterization of hazard
• Acceleration, displacement and velocity as intensity parameters
Demand and capacity after the Messina earthquake
Early evaluation of ground acceleration and response spectra
Structural design, from elasticity to the discover of ductility
Strength demand in modern codes
Capacity design and detailing in modern codes
• Mechanism hierarchy
• Adjusting detailing to the level of inelastic deformation
• Probability aspects
• Detailing for actions exceeding the design level
• Simplified approaches
Displacement based design

3. Numerical modelling of structures (4 hours + 2 tutorials)
Stiffness based analysis
Equilibrium based analysis
Conceptual analysis
Static and dynamic analysis
Linear and non linear analysis
Structural stability
Lumped vs distributed parameter systems
Consideration and modelling of brittle failure modes
Finite elements

4. Structural testing (4 hours + 2 tutorials)
Laboratory testing
Field testing
Imposing loads and displacements
• Hydraulic actuators
• Screw jacks
Data acquisition
• Strain gauges
• Linear potentiometers
• Pressure transducers
• Load cells
• Accelerometers
• Seismometers
• Optical reading
Static and dynamic testing
Shake table testing
Pseudo–dynamic testing
Test control

5. Design philosophy in practice (2 hours)
Design life
Design intensity
Design performances and limit states
Design for damage control or avoidance
Simplifying structures
• From real structures to models
• From multi to single degree of freedom
Simplified design approaches
Correlation between protection and structural cost
Building structures
Isolation and energy dissipation
Different standards for design and assessment
Assessment when details and material are known
Assessment approach when details are unknown
• Use of testing
• Use of design simulation
• Use of back analysis
Potential for step change in safety
Foundation assessment
Modification of damage and collapse mode
• Use of additional elements
• Local member strengthening
• Increasing local deformation capacity
• Reduction of displacement demand by added damping
• Introduction of base isolation
Policies for resources allocation, insurance policies, …

Course organization

The course will be organized in eight lectures of two hours each and four tutorials, also with a duration of two hours. Two homework assignments will be presented during the tutorials. The students will have to hand in the assignments before the final exam.
The final grade will be based either on the grades obtained in the assignments and on the final exam.
English and Italian language may be used indifferently for lectures and tutorials.

Teaching Assistants
Paola Ceresa
Ricardo Monteiro
Roberto Nascimbene
Francesco Lunghi



Il corso si svolgerà dal 3 al 23 aprile 2013 presso la Sala del Camino di Palazzo Broletto, ad eccezione delle lezioni del 5 e 19 aprile che si terranno nell'Aula 1-15. La lezione del 2 maggio si terrà nell'Aula 1-16.

Le due lezioni di Structural testing si terranno presso la Fondazione Eucentre.


Recommended reading

1. Bathe, K. J., and E. L. Wilson, Numerical Methods in Finite Element Analysis, Prentice-Hall, 1976
2. Calvi, G.M. e R. Nascimbene, Progettare i gusci, IUSS Press, Pavia, 2011
3. Calvi, G.M., Engineers Understanding of Earthquakes Demand and Structures Response, in Earthquake Engineering in Europe, Springer Science, 2010, pp. 223-248 or, alternatively Calvi, G.M., A lezione dai terremoti, Progettazione Sismica, 01, 2010, pp. 3-18
4. Calvi, G.M., Alternative Choices and Criteria for Seismic Strengthening, Invited Keynote Lecture, Proceedings of the 15th WCEE, Lisbon, 2012
5. Clough, R. W., and J. Penzien, Dynamics of structures, McGraw-Hill, 1975
6. Corradi, L., Instabilità delle Strutture, CLUP, Milano, 1st ed. 1975, 2nd ed. 1978.
7. Corradi, L., Meccanica delle Strutture, 1. Il comportamento dei mezzi continui, McGraw-Hill, Milano, 1992
8. Corradi, L., Meccanica delle Strutture, 2. Le teorie strutturali e il metodo degli elementi finiti, McGraw-Hill, Milano, 1993
9. Corradi, L., Meccanica delle Strutture, 3. La valutazione della capacità portante, McGraw-Hill, Milano, 1994
10. Dragoni, M., Terrae Motus, la sismologia da Eratostene allo Tsunami di Sumatra, UTET, Novara, 2005
11. Priestley, M.J.N., Myths and fallacies in earthquake engineering, revisited, IUSS Press, Pavia, 2003 (free download,
12. Tymoshenko, S. P., History of strength of materials, McGraw-Hill, N.Y, 1953

Historical references

13. Breventano, S., Trattato del terremoto,(a cura di Paola Albini), IUSSPress, Pavia, 2007
14. Hooke, R., Lectiones Cutlerianæ, or A collection of lectures: physical, mechanical, geographical, & astronomical, Printed for John Martyn, London, 1679
15. Galilei, G., Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze attinenti la meccanica e i movimenti locali, Elzeviri, Leida, 1638 (Cierre, Simeoni Arti Grafiche, 2011)
16. Galilei, G., Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, Firenze, 1632 (BUR, 2008)
17. Ligorio, P. Libro di diversi terremoti, (a cura di E. Guidoboni), De Luca Editori d’Arte, Roma, 2005
18. Newton, I. Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, London, 1687
19. Plinius, C. S., Naturalis Historia, 79
20. Rousseau, J.J., Lettre à Voltaire sur la Providence, 1756
21. Voltaire, Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne, ou examen de cet axiome: tout est bien, 1756


L'esame si terrà venerdì 24 maggio p.v., ore 9-12, presso l'Aula 1-15 della Sede IUSS.


Ambito : Scienze e Tecnologie

Semestre: Semestre II

Anno accademico: 2012-2013