Ashley P. Thrall: NSF CAREER Project

Myron and Rosemary Noble Associate Professor

of Structural Engineering

University of Notre Dame
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
and Earth Sciences

Ashley P. Thrall


CAREER: Transitional Bridging: From Rapidly Deployable Disaster Relief to Permanent Infrastructure Solutions


The research objective of this National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award is to build a theoretical framework for transitional bridging - bridges that can be rapidly deployed for immediate disaster relief and can be transformed in-situ for higher load capacity to support long-term, sustainable development. Following natural and anthropogenic hazards, rapidly deployable bridges are critical to restoring vital transportation arteries. The long recovery times following the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami demonstrate the need for bridging solutions that can provide an immediate response but also serve as permanent infrastructure. To this end, the project will test the hypothesis that novel adjustable connections can increase efficiency of rapidly erectable bridging systems by enabling a diversity of structural forms which can more effectively carry load using less material. The research plan will also test the hypothesis that novel adjustable modules can provide transitional capabilities. The efficiency of the transitional bridging framework which integrates the adjustable connections and modules will be verified numerically and experimentally.

The results of this research will be translated to industry through collaboration with a leading design firm. Integrated with this research objective, educational goals include (1) training the next generation of researchers and designers in bridge engineering and deployable structures and (2) increasing the participation and retention of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Prof. Thrall plans to develop a new, interdisciplinary, co-taught Deployable Structures for Disaster Relief course for undergraduate as well as graduate curricula in the College of Engineering and the College of Arts & Letters. Prof. Thrall also plans to collaborate with a local high school to implement "BRIDGES (Building Relationships to Inspire and Drive Girls to pursue Engineering and Science): an enrichment environment for young women".


This project began in June 2014. This website will be periodically updated with news related to research objectives and educational goals.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CMMI-1351272. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.