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Undergraduate Programs

Xerox Engineering Research Fellows

2019 Research Opportunities

Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures

Professor Renato Perucchio
Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures

Project Description

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; Professor Christopher DeCorse, Anthropology, Syracuse University; Professors Kodzo Gavua and William Gblerkpor, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana.

Specific objectives for summer 2019:

  1. Determine the constructions history, assess the damage state, and determine the seismic vulnerability of the Elmina Castle, Ghana (1482, Portuguese, Dutch, English). 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, unique 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 SubSaharan Africa. The overarching goal of this multidisciplinary research is to perform an integrated archaeological, historical, and engineering study of the Elmina Castle using state-of-the-art methodologies and instrumentation. Summer Field School  of several engineering students (two fully supported by Xerox fellowships in 2018). 2018 Field School participants are currently involved in constructing a detailed model using Siemens NX CAD system to serve as the basis for building construction analysis and structural FEM numerical modeling. Xerox Fellows are strongly encouraged to apply for Summer 2019.
  2. 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 on 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. Xerox Fellows are welcome for Summer 2019.
  3. 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 beginning a project aiming at investigating the static and dynamic (seismic) response and failure mechanisms of typical Puuc vaults using FEM models and kinematic limit analysis. There are openings for undergraduate participation and Xerox Fellows are welcome in Summer 2019.

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.