Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Brent M. Phares

Second Advisor

Terry Wipf


The critical deterioration of bridges nationwide has initiated the search for new methods to rehabilitate, repair, manage, and construct bridges. Consequently, smart structure concepts utilizing structural health monitoring strategies have emerged to help improve future bridge management. However, in the specific case of timber bridges, a limited amount of research has been conducted on long-term structural health monitoring solutions. To date, timber bridge evaluation efforts have focus primarily on visual inspection data to determine the structural integrity of timber structures. To improve current timber bridge inspection and management strategies, a five-year research plan to develop a smart timber bridge structure was undertaken. The overall goal is to develop a turn-key system to analyze, monitor, and report on the performance and condition of timber bridges.

This paper outlines two of the multiple phases in the five-year research plan. One phase focusses on developing, embedding, and attaching both strain and moisture sensors into glued-laminated (glulam) timber components. The other phase addresses data processing techniques to determine structural stiffness changes in timber bridges.

From this work, the following contributions were added to the development of the smart timber bridge.

* A commercially available timber moisture sensor was selected for the smart timber bridge due its reasonable accuracy, survivability under repeated loading, and ability to be wired in to a complete data logging system.

* Two methods for embedding and attaching strain sensors into glulam girders were developed, tested, and successfully integrated into the glulam fabrication process.

* A data processing technique to evaluate structural stiffness parameters was successfully developed and implemented on an existing timber bridge.

The timber specific sensors and data processing techniques described herein collectively advance the development of the smart timber bridge. Upon completing the ongoing research plan, timber bridge owners will be provided with useful information regarding the performance and condition of their structure. As a result, owners will be able to program routine maintenance and/or rehabilitation in a more timely fashion.


Copyright Owner

Trevor Pence



File Format


File Size

62 pages