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changes,” she explained. “It’s important. It seems like the temperatures that we see in the structure often exceed the design gradients that the code would specify.”

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In a related project, Linderman is examining sensor selection and placement—trying to discern what’s the most efficient and cost-effective way to use available smart technology. “Longer term, our goal is to incorporate the reliability of the sensors into where you put them,” she said. “By that I mean, what if a sensor fails? Do I also want something [another sensor] that’s redundant?”

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Through her work, Linderman often imagines some of the smart tools that don’t yet exist. “There are still sensors that I think would be exciting to develop,” she said. “Corrosion sensing [for bridges] is probably the holy grail. One of the big concerns with concrete structures is if the rebar is corroding, or the prestressing strand is corroding, you can’t see it.” Instead, engineers rely on a complicated process of deduction. “If you could detect that,” she added, “that would be pretty cool.”

J

ulianna Abel: Smart fabrics

As an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering, Julianna Abel and four of her classmates had a weekly tradition—they’d get together to knit and watch Project Runway. That gathering became more than a hobby. It informed her career path. Today, Abel is a Benjamin Mayhugh assistant professor of mechanical engineering in CSE, where she’s developing and enhancing smart materials and

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structures—most of them inspired by knitting and textiles.

She’s a national leader in a small but growing sphere.

“When I went to grad school, I was looking for an interesting project that applied materials in a novel way. My advisor, who was also a hobbyist knitter, and I had this idea to couple smart materials and knitting,” Abel said. The fibers she works with today aren’t wool or acrylic, but rather metal solid-state actuators that are often woven into fabrics and can be used to create smart garments, medical devices, consumer products, and more.

“There aren’t a lot of us working in the multifunctional textile space,” Abel said. “But there are so many opportunities to create actuating, sensing, energy harvesting, and communicating textiles to impact different fields.” Some of her endeavors revolve around shape-memory alloys—smart metals that, when stretched or otherwise deformed, “remember” their original

Inventing Tomorrow Summer 2019  

In this future-oriented issue, we feature three University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty harnessing “smart” techno...

Inventing Tomorrow Summer 2019  

In this future-oriented issue, we feature three University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty harnessing “smart” techno...