Internship | Probalilistic structural health monitoring in masonry bridges with a wooden pile foundation



Education type

university (wo)


Internship and graduation project

Hours a week

Fulltime – 40


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What will you be doing?

Managing of the aging civil infrastructure poses a significant challenge to every industrially advanced country. Early detection of damage and real time monitoring of the state of structures are of utmost importance for economical maintenance planning. However, damage can rarely be monitored directly, thus we need to infer it from easy-to-measure responses such as crack patterns in the structure. This necessitates a mechanical model that connects the damage parameters with the observed ones, for example a finite element model. Furthermore, since this mechanical model and the measurements as well are burdened with uncertainty, the damage identification should be embedded into a probabilistic framework.
The municipality of Amsterdam is investigating the technical state of its existing bridges. Most underground parts of bridges are difficult to reach, which means that damage in those parts cannot be monitored directly. To this date monitoring of typical Amsterdam bridges is done on the masonry abutments which gives general information about deformations of the bridge. While this is important information, it cannot predict precisely what kind of damage causes these deformations. This is required to more accurately assess the risk. For this reason the municipality is looking for more detailed methods of monitoring the bridges and assessing possible damage scenarios.
The challenge
The above sketched situation is multifaceted with connection to engineering, mathematical statistics, monitoring, and economics. Our team is working on many of these facets and aspires to devise, realize, and test a framework that is applicable for decision support for condition-based asset management of real structures.
In the thesis work you are invited to answer the following pertinent questions: 
  • What are the possible damage scenarios in a typical bridge in Amsterdam (incl. masonry abutments and wood pile foundations)?
  • What measured responses are the most informative for identification of the state of the pile foundation with high certainty?
  • What differences in the response can be found to differentiate between the different damage scenarios of the pile foundation (e.g. ground bearing capacity, strength of the wooden piles or strength of the foundation planking etc.)?
  • What is the optimal sensor placement to identify the state of the pile foundation?
  • How to model the system behavior of the typical bridge in Amsterdam (incl. masonry abutments and wood pile foundations) in an accurate and still efficient way? 

What do we require of you?

  • Completed or ongoing Master studies in civil engineering;
  • Affinity with complex soil-structure interaction problems, computational modelling of structures (finite element modelling), masonry structures, geotechnics and Bayesian statistics;
  • Demonstrated ability to apply mathematical knowledge and abstraction to solving complex problems;
  • Demonstrated working experience in computer programming (experience with Matlab, Python, or R is an advantage).

What can you expect of your work situation?

You will be working in the Structural Reliability department together with a group of experts and students in computational mechanics, structural reliability, structural monitoring, and mathematical statistics that are open for discussion and are willing to help out. As a MSc student at TNO you have the possibility to develop a personalized research program within an experienced team and get a taste of how it is like to work in an applied research institute.

What can TNO offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply on this vacancy! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Contact: Arthur Slobbe
Phone number: +31 (0)88-86 63185

Note that applications via email and third party applications are not taken into consideration.


Apply now



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