Cool tech file: Monitoring the 'health' of structures

When structures fail, the results can be catastrophic. Condition Engineering, a 2007 NCIIA E-Team grantee, designs systems that monitor the integrity of earthen infrastructure such as dams and levees, and the performance of air and space vehicles.

The technology: The SensorRope snakes down inside earthern structures and monitors the conditions of the structure, transmitting an early failure warning signal should the structural conditions be deemed dangerous. Condition Engineering is also developing a fiber optic sensing system for monitoring the temperature and structural integrity of high-temperature materials, such as a space vehicle's thermal protection shield.