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22 September 2022 Christian Wißler, Pressestelle, University of Bayreuth

Sensor system installed on the underside of a highway bridge (A9). Photo: Markus Michel.

Markus Michel M.Sc. in a laboratory of the Chair of Measurement and Control Systems at the University of Bayreuth. Here, the measurement data transmitted by the sensors were evaluated. Photo: UBT / Christian Wißler

Markus Michel M.Sc., a graduate of the master's programme "Automotive and Mechatronics" at the University of Bayreuth, has been awarded the "VDI Prize for the best engineering thesis in 2022" by the Association of German Engineers (VDI). In his master's thesis, he developed a procedure for the measurement-based monitoring of highway bridges. In the future, this procedure could help to detect gradually developing damage at an early stage and to take countermeasures. The award will be presented on October 22, 2022, during this year's Graduate Day of the Faculty of Engineering on the campus of the University of Bayreuth.

Whenever a vehicle drives onto a bridge, vibrations and sound waves of different frequencies are excited. In his master's thesis entitled "Vibration analysis for condition monitoring of bridge structures", Markus Michel measured the vibrations and sound waves generated during the transition from the road to a highway bridge. In his investigations based on these measurements, he came to the conclusion that an evaluation of these measurement data can supplement and strengthen conventional methods for monitoring bridges. The measurements used a distributed network of sensors mounted on the underside of the roadway. "I kindly received permission from the Autobahndirektion Nordbayern to install highly sensitive acceleration sensors at five locations on a highway bridge on the A9. These sensors continuously generated a large number of signals that contained important information about the characteristics of the vehicles, the volume of traffic and the behavior of the bridge that was influenced by them," reports the Bayreuth graduate.

Because of the large number of signals generated, the evaluation proved to be very demanding. For this purpose, Michel developed correspondingly complex algorithms and successfully applied both classical signal processing methods and artificial intelligence (AI) methods. This approach can also be applied on a larger scale and is likely to be further developed for both road and rail traffic in such a way that it provides valuable support for the measurement-based monitoring of bridges. In particular, it could help to ensure that damage and safety risks are detected early and accurately.

"The master's thesis is characterized by a knowledgeable and confident handling of classical algorithms and AI algorithms and consistently exhibits a high quality of content and technical breadth," says Dr.-Ing. Ronny Peter, supervisor of the thesis and postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of Measurement and Control Systems at the University of Bayreuth, where the master's thesis was written. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Fischer-auer, holder of the chair, shares this assessment and adds, "We are very pleased that the merits of this engineering master's thesis also convinced the VDI jury."

Contact for scientific information:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Fischerauer
Chair of Measurement and Control Systems
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 55-7230

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