Carnegie Mellon University
July 08, 2014

Hae Young Noh: Structure as a Sensor

Hae Young Noh: Structure as a Sensor

CEE Assistant Professor Hae Young Noh has been working on interdisciplinary research, collaborating with colleagues on projects that have applications in the areas of structure monitoring, smart space, personalized services, security, and transportation.

Specifically, her research highlights a new concept of “Structure as a Sensor.” Traditional approaches consider buildings and structures as an object to sense, utilizing a dense array of dedicated sensors to collect information. Instead, she seeks to achieve sparse, non-dedicated sensing using the structure itself as a sensing medium. In particular, building vibrations from indoor and outdoor environmental and operational conditions (people walking around, traffic outside, etc.), have been often seen as noise that needs to be removed; however, they are a rich source of information about the structure, users, environment, and resources.

Her research focuses on analyzing these responses that buildings provide to enhance user comfort, safety, and sustainability. Within the context of infrastructure research, building vibrations can be analyzed for a variety of reasons, such as determining space management or security issues in a building by examining the step vibrations as people move through and use the space. Analogous to buildings, transportation applications use vehicles and infrastructure as sensors to plan for road or bridge maintenance by monitoring wear and tear. In her analysis process, Noh uses signal processing that employs an algorithm to analyze the vibrations analysis to determine where bridge damage is occurring in Pittsburgh’s light rail system (“the T”) and in California.

For this project, she has been working with College of Engineering professors Jacobo Bielak (CEE), Jelena Kovacevic (ECE), Bob Iannucci (CMU-SV), and Pei Zhang (ECE); the Pittsburgh Port Authority; and the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation University Transportation Center (T-SET UTC). For building applications, Noh is currently collaborating with Zhang to localize and characterize users indoors, based on floor vibrations, in collaboration with Intel and Qualcomm.

She is also collaborating with CEE Assistant Professor Mario Berges to monitor water and transmission pipes using ultrasonic guided waves. The pressured pipes in Wean Hall’s hot-water supply system have been instrumented to test the damage detection methods.

Recently, Noh has become involved with the Smart Infrastructure Incubator and other groups on campus, including the T-SET UTC and Architecture to find ways to collaborate on urban systems research. By coalescing advanced sensing technologies with data analytics, her research aims to enhance the sustainability and resilience of the city. This enables continuous situation awareness of complex urban systems and their adaptation in the face of changing demand and environment.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2014 ICES iNews Magazine and reprinted with permission.

Related Story: Vibration Analysis: The “Wave” of the Future

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