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School of Engineering

Stress test

Monday, June 25, 2018
Professor Masoud Sanayei analyzes the structural health of roller coasters.
A roller coaster car full of people in the air against a blue sky

For Professor Masoud Sanayei, studying the integrity of a roller coaster uses many of the same processes as examining the load-rating, model calibration, and fatigue life predictions of a bridge using real-time structural health monitoring.

In his research, Sanayei, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, has designed and created sensor networks and data acquisition systems for condition assessment of these structures using physics-based mathematical models for analyzing patterns found in measured data.

To understand the whole structural health picture of a roller coaster structure, Sanayei uses instruments including accelerometers, strain gages, tiltmeters, and optical sensors to assess structural condition in real-time and determine the safety of all elements of the ride using the measured data.

Once put into practice, the methodology for determining the safety of a roller coaster structure can be used on a regular basis to ensure rider safety and provide data-driven support for future repairs and designs. It’s a multifaceted approach that helps keep fairground goers safe, one loop-the-loop at a time.