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Cooper Lab's maritime tests

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Maritime tests

The simulator tests the strength of stiffeners on large ships by mashing down on the object.

Mohamed Soliman, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at OSU, is one of the main minds behind the some tests being done in the Cooper Lab. 

“This is our playground,” Soliman said as he stepped to the concrete floor of the lab.

Inside the lab itself, there's equipment for multiple projects being worked on in the same space. The projects in the lab are hitting many facets of civil engineering from concrete mixing to sea ship simulation.

In 2018, design work for a sea ship simulator began at OSU. The purpose of the simulation is to test the strength of stiffeners found in large scale ships in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Stiffeners are metal sections used to support a metal plate.

The large simulator puts pressure on the stiffeners, testing their lifespan.

Leon Shen, PhD student, is who Soliman calls the mastermind behind the project and who he credits most of the technical equipment monitoring the simulation.

Six months ago, the tests began in the lab, after years of construction, design work, and numerical analysis.

In the past, researchers have not been able to have as in-depth a study due to the cost of the experiment, however, through innovative design work, the team has been able to reduce expenses. Justin Hoppe, a civil engineering senior, said he has been working on the construction of the specimen since the summer of 2019.

“It was three months of a lot of work and effort,” Hoppe said.

During this time, Hoppe’s role was in connecting the three main components holding the specimen together with the actuator, which is responsible for the movement that puts stress on the stiffeners and bolts.

Soliman said the tests run non stop for three days straight, and then stop for inspection. Their team must be cautious when working with the equipment they’re using.

The tests being done, involves measuring the crack growing in the stiffeners, and the strain patterns changing with the crack. They have a camera on the inside which uses computer algorithms to follow the crack as it grows.

They also have sensors connected to the bolts to show them what stress occurs up to the point where a bolt pops out.

Hoppe said the next challenge in the experiment will be un-doing what they have done. They must start thinking about the best methods to deconstruct the specimen, in order to test at least two more steel samples.

Soliman said the amount of work and data collection happening will have real world benefits. The research will help engineers better understand the fatigue life of stiffeners in harsh ocean conditions. 

The experiment will be put in literature when it is finished, so other researchers will be able to reference their work.