• Form-finding methods for cable and tensile structures
  • Optimized sensor placement for civil structures
  • Structural dynamics
  • Machine learning and robotics for civil structures
  • Damage mitigation and risk assessment in large-scale structures
  • Adaptive and deployable structures


Our research seeks to create new lightweight, adaptive, and deployable structures with innovative control and machine learning techniques to address the world’s ever-changing environmental challenges. Current infrastructure is designed and built such that it must simultaneously comply with all possible loads. This leads to overdesigned structures that are inefficient in terms energy and cost. A structure that can self-identify damage, adapt, and learn for future events addresses the emerging field of intelligent infrastructure and structural health monitoring. Emerging technologies for civil engineering structures include a combination of sensing with real-time active feedback control which includes form-finding methods, structural dynamics, statistical diagnostic tools, sensor placement optimization, robotics, and multi-scale experimental testing.

Ongoing Projects

Modular aluminum tensegrity roof grids

This work in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) and Facilities and Services at UIUC, will look to build an aluminum bike parking canopy with a tensegrity roof. This modular design is easily assembled by hand and constructed such that it is compliant with wind and snow loads while maintaining adequate stiffness. Aluminum alloys will be studied in collaboration with Prof. Nishant Garg and are of interest since it is corrosion resistant and lightweight.

Virtual Reality experience of civil-scale tensegrity pedestrian bridge

This work in collaboration with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is to provide users the immersive experience of the feel and behavior of a tensegrity structure pedestrian bridge. The topology from the 1/4 scale “hollow rope” pentagonal tensegrity structure will be used to show engineers capabilities of large-scale real-life tensegrity structures.

Virtual Reality experience for civil engineering education

Benefitting both structural engineering senior students and architecture sophmore students, this vitual reality training tool helps visualize load path flowing through a building. This concept is often theoretical and when using 2D plans, can be a challenge for students to dissect information as they are not yet familiar with reading building plans.

Adaptive robotic tensegrity civil structures

This work is studying the adaptive behavior of a robotic tensegrity roof structure. Biomimetic behavior includes aspects such as learning from previous experience, self-diagnosis, and adaptation.  Simulations of the structure are improved from previous work to include friction effects of cables sliding over joints. Despite improved simulations, testing shows that significant uncertainties in the behavior of the structure remain. Special methodologies for feedback control using simulations and measurements are required.

Adaptive origami structures

In this work on origami structures, such as those with a Miura-Ori fold pattern, have one principle direction of kinematic freedom where rigid foldability holds true. However, motions such as twisting and curling, and bending require that origami panels bend, thus adding complexity to the system.  Optimal actuator locations are evaluated based on the performance of a panel structure for roof applications to achieve both local and global shape-change.

Deployable and compliant geostructural systems

This work seeks to advance self-installing ground instrumentation and vessel anchors through a novel geo-structural concept utilizing deployable, compliant structural members to enhance tension capacity.  These structural members are biologically-inspired from cheatgrass awns. In collaboration with Dr. Joe Tom and Dr. Ryan Beemer, are investigating structural properties and alignment of this geometrically nonlinear system.

Available code upon request:

  • Cable sliding friction for Dynamic Relaxation
  • Panel and crease folding stiffness for Dynamic Relaxation