University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2007 - $14,600
The best way to monitor the condition of load-bearing structures (bridges, tunnels, earthen dams, and levees) is to install sensors to measure things like movement, vibration, and water saturation. A typical instrumentation set-up uses a number of individual sensors to monitor each different parameter at each different location. This can become costly and inefficient, however, if many parameters need to be measured at once.
This team, now incorporated as Condition Engineering, is developing a solution with the Intelligent Ground Condition Monitoring System (IGCMS), sensor technology that can assess multiple parameters simultaneously. The IGCMS provides detailed information regarding structural stability while reducing the number overall number of sensors. The device consists of a sensor driver attached to a sensor rope. The rope is flexible like a garden hose and takes measurements all along its length. Sold by the foot, the rope could be used as a stand-alone device or in groups of tens, hundreds or thousands to provide a widespread monitoring system.