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Kinetic Structures Laboratory

Ashley P. Thrall


The Kinetic Structures Laboratory (KSL), directed by Dr. Ashley P. Thrall, is dedicated to investigating the behavior, design, and optimization of kinetic civil infrastructure utilizing analytical, numerical, and experimental approaches. Kinetic bridges, shelters, and buildings include modular systems, which are rapidly movable and deployable. Applications of this research include military operations, disaster relief, and accelerated construction of civil infrastructure.

Problems we are working on

Current and recent projects include designing rapidly deployable origami-inspired shelters, developing new approaches to rapidly erectable bridge systems, performing topology optimization on modular structures, and investigating prefabricated high-strength rebar systems with high-performance concrete for accelerated construction of nuclear concrete structures. Research being conducted is currently funded with support from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, with prior support from the US Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center.


The Kinetic Structures Laboratory is a 1200 square foot facility with computational, rapid-prototyping, and experimental capabilities. The computational resources include two dedicated high performance computational servers that have the latest Broadwell-EP Intel processors (a total of 48 cores/96 compute threads available, each server is Dual Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2650 v4 @ 2.20GH, 128 GB DDR4 2133 MT/sec RAM), fair share access to the University of Notre Dame Center for Research Computing including 8000 cores with the associated infrastructure, and dedicated workstations for students. The laboratory features a Universal Laser Cutter (VLS 6.60 with a 32 x 18 in. cutting bed) and a Stratasys 3-dimensional printer (uPrint SE Plus, 8 x 8 x 6 in build size, .010 or .013 in. layer thickness) for rapid prototyping. Experimental testing equipment includes air bladders with pressure regulators and hydraulic actuators (30 kip capacity, each) with load cells and servo controller that facilitates application of distributed and point loads, respectively. Drop-in concrete floor anchors are arranged on an approximate 8 in. grid for anchoring samples and reaction frames to a rigid foundation. The facility also includes a National Instruments SCXI sensor measurement and signal conditioning system used for data acquisition. A conventional instrumentation system includes load cells, pressure sensors, displacement sensors, and strain gauges. A state-of-the-art three-dimensional Digital Image Correlation system facilitates full-field, non-destructive testing.

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