Mar 30, 2011    #055
Contact: Laura Byerley
(816) 235-1592

ZhiQiang Chen works to prevent scour -- the number one cause of bridge collapse

University of Missouri Research Board grant supports bridge safety analysis

When the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minnesota collapsed in 2007, bridge safety became a national topic of discussion. Aiming to prevent future bridge collapses, ZhiQiang Chen is searching for ways to eliminate foundation scour - or removal of sediment by swiftly moving water.

Chen, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Computing and Engineering's (SCE) Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, received a $25,900 grant from the University of Missouri Research Board for "Design-oriented Scoured Foundation Modeling for Bridge Performance Analysis". Slated to receive funding for a year, the project will officially begin during the summer.

Case histories of structural collapse in the U.S. have revealed that foundation scour is the number one cause of bridge collapse. More than 1,000 bridges in Missouri were deemed susceptible to scour, according to Chen.

"The design, analysis and performance evaluation methods for scoured bridges significantly lag behind in our community," Chen said. "One of the reviewers of this proposal actually commented that the proposed research is very timely. The long-term goal, beyond this pilot project, is to establish UMKC as a national center focusing on scoured bridge system research."

Modeling scoured bridge systems demands a cross-disciplinary computational approach involving hydraulic, geotechnical and structural engineering. As a structural engineer, Chen will work with students on modeling the foundational bridge systems, and will collaborate with hydraulic and geotechnical engineers on field surveys and physical testing.

Before joining UMKC in 2010, Chen worked as a postdoctoral researcher and conducted research in soil-structure system modeling and identification. Chen received a Ph.D. in Structural Engineering from the University of California, San Diego in 2009, where he completed his dissertation titled, "Identifying Structural Damage from Images".

His research specialties are structural systems performance, performance-based design and earthquake engineering and civil infrastructure condition and disaster assessment through imaging and visual computing.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

# # #

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


Bookmark and Share