Swinburne engineers have been awarded for ground-breaking work to keep buildings standing.

Engineers Australia has given the university the W H Warren medal for a paper titled ‘Development and validation of multi-axis substructure testing system (MAST) for full-scale experiments’.

“The Multi-Axis Substructure Testing (MAST) system provides a powerful tool for engineers to investigate the dynamic effects of strong earthquakes, winds and hydrodynamic waves on full scale structural systems and their components,” says Professor Riadh Al-Mahaidi, Director of the Smart Structures Laboratory at Swinburne.

“The hybrid system helps structural engineers to develop and maintain a new generation of smart structures that are capable of withstanding catastrophic events.”

The prediction of structural performance from initial linear-elastic behaviour to collapse is essential in assessing the effectiveness of new design methods and the implementation of new retrofitting strategies.

The work was completed at the university’s cutting-edge facility, which combines the advantages of experimental techniques with those of online computer simulations.

Swinburne’s simulator stands out because it allows users to physically test a critical structural component, such as a steel or concrete column, under the duress of six movements — vertical, lateral, longitudinal, pitch, roll and yaw movement.

Engineers refer to these movements as the six degrees of freedom.

It represents a paradigm shift in the way testing is done for better understanding of structural behaviour under different dynamic load types.