Flagpole and Shaketable WebLabs
Prof. Kevin Amaratunga, Mazen Manasseh, Ragunathan Sudarshan
Started in September 2000, the Flagpole project is one of several iLab Projects within the iCampus framework at MIT involving the real-time instrumentation of a flagpole. This project lays the foundation of a virtual laboratory for monitoring real-world physical infrastructure over the Internet. In particular, the implementation of a remote laboratory serves to monitor the deformation under lateral wind loading of a flagpole. One of the primary goals of creating the virtual laboratory was to enhance the comprehension of concepts in structural dynamics, sensor technology and signal processing using an actual structural system as a laboratory model.
The project incorporates several educational tools that fall into two categories. The first category consists of applets that illustrate a particular concept, such as the vibration of a single degree of freedom system using numerical simulations. The second category consists of applets that process real data in different ways to illustrate concepts in structural dynamics and signal processing. In addition, it is possible for a student to write his or her own programs to access and process real-time or archived data by modifying the example programs written in Java, C# and Lab Windows/CVI.
The Shaketable experiment, another example of a virtual laboratory, aims at providing students with hands-on experience of structural dynamics and earthquake hazard mitigation. Students will be able to analyze and control the response of a building subjected to an earthquake in real-time.
The initial team working on the project was lead by Profs. Kevin Amaratunga and Franz-Josef Ulm and consisted of two S.M. (Matthew Echard and Raghunathan Sudarshan) and five M.Eng. (David Greene, Tinu Mishra, Jim Nelson, Jochen Schlingloff and Jiun-Yan Wu) students. Since September 2002, Mazen Manasseh has been involved with the project and has implemented several .NET web services. Current works include upgrading the system to support .Net client-side programming and providing a web-accessible interface to the Shaketable experiment.
Prof. Kevin Amaratunga is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research interests are: information technology, wavelets and multiscale representations, signal and image processing, high performance computer simulation, data assimilation, and modeling and management of large-scale systems.
Ragunathan Sudarshan is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Research interests include multiresolution finite element modeling, high performance computing, and sensing and monitoring of physical infrastructure.
Mazen Manasseh is a Masters of Science candidate in Information Technology with a Bachelor of Engineer degree in Civil Engineering. His current research involves real-time web access and control to various experimentation systems. A feature of the research field aims at reshaping student interaction with laboratory setups through remote experimentation.