With the recent changes in the Italian seismic design code and guidelines, and even before those, the role of structural analysis within the scope of earthquake engineering has become ever more important up to the point of assuming that a structural design practitioner can not be considered as such without the support of appropriate computational analysis tools. Very recently the document CNR-DT 212/2013 highlighted the more predominant requirements about advanced numerical analyses and modelling.
There are three essential steps that practitioners should keep in mind when carrying out advanced numerical structural analysis:
- Build a mathematical model of the structure to be designed, with an appropriate level of detail;
- Subdivide the model in finite elements;
- Numerically solve the discretized model, critically analyse the results and write a design report.
The development of structural analysis software applications for nonlinear explicit and implicit dynamic analysis requires a strong link between software architects/developers and civil/structural engineers. The former play a major role in selecting the programming language to express computation, the database, the graphical or web user interface and the central differences between presentation and business logic layers. The latter implement numerical procedures, designed and built to become self-governing, consistent and robust. The “Structural Analysis” Section, composed of highly qualified researchers from Eucentre, IUSS-Pavia and University of Pavia, places itself in this second field and deals with research topics such as the following:
- Analytical and theoretical solution to problems of great practical relevance: e.g. damage regularisation models, in order to overcome localisation and objectivity loss, as well as formulation of a fibre element able to represent shear-bending response of frame elements under cyclic loading;
- Comparison between national and international design codes, in order to develop numerical modelling guidelines for practitioners involved in seismic assessment of structures;
- Development of numerical models for unusual structural typologies such as timber building or containment modular structures; advanced three-dimensional finite element models of connections in precast industrial buildings, non structural elements, pipelines and lifelines in general;
- Development of ad-hoc algorithms, in different programme languages, to meet practitioner and industry requirements;
- Definition of advanced methods, numerical techniques and finite/fibre element procedures in automating new-building design and verification of existing structures;
- Provision of know-how and technical consultancy in the following main tasks: seismic design of tanks, impact loading on structures, progressive collapse;
- Comparison of numerical models with experimental pseudo-static or dynamic tests in order to validate the finite elements model or to calibrate it;
- Evaluation, assessment and verification of existing structural and non structural solutions, buildings, elements and connections, in order to enforce the behaviour in terms of capacity and performance based design according to the very recent seismic codes and guidelines, national and international.
The following additional research topics are also typically focused in this Section:
- Drafting of guidelines for the definition of verification tests to evaluate the capabilities and effectiveness of the numerical procedure used in a software code: modelling and analysis validation, algorithm robustness, accuracy of implemented elements in relation to the significant amount of available analytical and experimental data;
- Validation of numerical procedure and advanced models by comparisons between different software and/ experimental tests;
- Collaboration with industry and practitioners in undertaking advanced numerical simulation of structural systems; implicit and explicit models such as progressive collapse, impact, blast or explosions; comparisons of numerical models with experimental tests in order to validate and calibrate the behaviour of structures;
- Consultancy, training and technical-scientific support during data acquisition, finite element modeling, analysis and design stages.