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Undergraduate Programs

Xerox Engineering Research Fellows

2020 Research Opportunities

Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures


Professor Renato Perucchio
Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures
rlp@me.rochester.edu

Research Projects: Static and Dynamic Structural Analysis of Heritage Masonry Buildings

My research and teaching interests are in computational solid and structural mechanics, in the development of engineering practices in antiquity, and in the study of heritage buildings in earthquake-prone areas. Ongoing research projects open to qualified undergraduates are in the structural analysis of historic monumental masonry buildings subjected to earthquake loading.

My principal collaborators are University of Rochester Professor Chris Muir, ME, and Professor Michael Jarvis, History; and Professor Christopher DeCorse, Anthropology, Syracuse University.

Engineering undergraduates participating in these projects are trained in the application of fundamental modeling techniques widely used for research and product development in many areas of modern engineering: solid modeling reconstruction of complex geometries, 3D FEM linear and nonlinear analysis, kinematic limit analysis simulating 2D and 3D collapse mechanism. Students will be encouraged – and guided - to submit conference and journal papers based on their research results.

Research Project #1: Seismic Vulnerability of the Elmina Castle

Determine the constructions history, assess the damage state, and determine the seismic vulnerability of the Elmina Castle, Ghana (1482, Portuguese, Dutch, English). This project requires participating in the 2020 Summer Field School in Engineering and Archaeology of Heritage Buildings of West African, May 24 – June 27, in Ghana. Built in 1482 by the Portuguese Crown, St. Jorge Castle at Elmina is the oldest permanent structure introduced by Europeans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elmina Castle is a monument of extraordinary importance for understanding four centuries of interactions between West Africa, Europe, and the Americas beginning with the late 15th century and culminating with the Atlantic Slave Trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. Furthermore, due to its meticulous planning and continuous restoration, the building itself is the best-preserved and most complete example of European late-medieval masonry construction transplanted in Sub-Saharan Africa. Besides the survey and solid modeling reconstruction of the entire castle, engineering students are involved in the structural evaluation and  seismic analysis of distinct building elements within the castle, such as curtain walls, brick vaulted rooms, and towers. This work involves applying nonlinear static and dynamic finite element models (FEM) to complex 3D problems in structural mechanics characterized by quasi-brittle materials.

 

Research Project #2: Structural Response and Conditions for Structural Collapse of the Frigidarium of the Bath of Diocletian

Determine the structural response and the conditions for structural collapse for the Frigidarium of the Bath of Diocletian in Rome (298-305 AD) subjected to a horizontal acceleration. This is a gigantic vaulted structure built of unreinforced pozzolanic concrete on which we have already done extensive linear and nonlinear finite element modeling (FEM). We have also applied kinematic limit analysis based on the damaged configurations predicted by the nonlinear FEM models. Since 2010, the Xerox Fellowship has supported six students working on the static and dynamic analysis of Roman concrete vaults, leading to several journal and conference (national and international) publications.

Research Project #3: Structural Response and Conditions for Seismic Collapse for Concrete Vaulted Structures Built by the Maya in the Puuc Region of Yucatan, Mexico

Determine the structural response and the conditions for seismic collapse for concrete vaulted structures built by the Maya in the Puuc region of Yucatan, Mexico (Late Classic, ~1,000 AD). Puuc architecture is characterized by the usage of excellent lime concrete with mechanical and physical properties similar to modern Portland concrete. Maya vaulted structures – ranging from relatively small halls inside temples or palaces to large gateway arches – are often incorrectly assumed to behave structurally as corbelled arches, held in equilibrium by superimposed projecting stone blocks. In reality, due to their inner solid concrete core, Maya vaults behave structurally like an elastic continuum, quite similar to Roman concrete vaults. We are aiming at investigating the static and dynamic (seismic) response and failure mechanisms of typical Puuc vaults using FEM models and kinematic limit analysis.

Engineering undergraduates participating in these projects are trained in the application of fundamental modeling techniques widely used for research and product development in many areas of modern engineering: solid modeling reconstruction of complex geometries, 3D FEM linear and nonlinear analysis, kinematic limit analysis simulating 2D and 3D collapse mechanism. Students will be encouraged – and guided - to submit conference and journal papers based on their research results. Please contact Professor Perucchio if you are interested in applying.