Research Project: Computational Solid and Structural Mechanics and in the Development of Engineering Practices in Antiquity
My research and teaching interests are in computational solid and structural mechanics and in the development of engineering practices in antiquity. Current research projects open to undergraduate students are in the structural analysis of monumental concrete domes and vaults from Roman Imperial architecture (1st to 4th century A.D.)
Engineering undergraduates participating in this research are trained in the application of 3D finite element stress analysis, a fundamental modeling technique widely used for research and product development in many areas of modern engineering. They also participate in the development of augmented reality visualization procedures for the display of finite element results on complex 3D models. Specific objectives are: to determine the structural behavior, the design philosophy, the construction process, and the process of structural decay for several major monuments, including the Great Hall of Trajan’s Markets, the Frigidarium of the Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian, and the Pantheon.
The investigation is based on systematic 3D computational modeling and stress analysis of the structural skeleton of each monument and involves creating detailed solid modeling reconstructions on which static and dynamic finite element analysis is performed to simulate gravitational and seismic loading conditions. This research is highly interdisciplinary: my students and I work with colleagues in archaeology, architecture and optical engineering, and with curators of monuments in Rome.