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Graduate Student Evan Gerbo Awarded O.H. Ammann Fellowship

Allison Preston • DATE: April 10, 2018

Notre Dame Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences Ph.D. student Evan Gerbo has been awarded the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) O.H. Ammann Research Fellowship. The award is presented to students who encourage new knowledge in the structural design and construction fields.

Gerbo is researching new opportunities for rapidly erectable steel structural systems through an adjustable connection under the direction of Professor Ashley Thrall. This research is supported by Professor Thrall’s National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award. Ted Zoli, National Bridge Chief Engineer of HNTB Corporation, is also providing valuable industry guidance on the project.

“The idea is that you have a bolted steel plate connection that connects steel members at a variety of angles with the ability to adjust in-situ to allow for additional angles or tolerances through cold bending,” Gerbo says.

The connection plates are prefabricated by cold bending (using a press brake) to defined angles creating a kit-of-parts that can be used for many structural systems. During field installation, these plates are then further bent by bolt tightening until sufficient contact is achieved.

Specifically, Gerbo is investigating several connection scenarios and their behavior under differing geometric parameters (e.g., connection angles, plate thickness, bolt diameter).  This approach can be applied to any shallow-angle joint between angled members in bridges and buildings. Advantages include reductions to cost and construction time as the kit-of-parts can be used to construct many different connections while also allowing for erection tolerances.

“We are going to test additional connections and look at parameters, such as the installation procedure and type of loading, that can expand what we know about their behavior,” Gerbo says.

The team will utilize the award money to buy materials to expand the planned experimental testing program.

It has become a proud tradition of Notre Dame CEEES structural engineering students to be the recipients of the O.H. Ammann Research Fellowship award. Past recipients include Megan McCullough in 2012, Sarah Bobby and Teng Wu in 2013, Ravi Kiran Yellavajjala in 2014, and Andrew Bartolini and Maria Gibbs in 2015. Ph.D. student Karen Angeles is also a recipient of this year’s O.H. Ammann Research Fellowship.