Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures (ISIS) Research Network was established in 1995 to provide civil engineers with smarter ways to build, repair and monitor structures, through the use of high-strength, non-corroding, fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs) and fibre optic sensors (FOSs). Created by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, ISIS encompasses 14 universities, 30 principal researchers, 275 researchers, 190 associated organizations and 45 multidisciplinary demonstration projects. The administration centre headquarters for ISIS Canada is located at the University of Manitoba.
The mandate of ISIS Canada is to advance civil engineering to a world leadership position, through the development and application of FRPs and integrated, intelligent FOS technologies. As a result, Canadians will benefit from innovative, intelligent infrastructure. The objective is to revolutionize the design of civil-engineering structures over the next decade. The mandate has been extended, with $9.6 million in funding from 2006 to 2009.
The advantage of using fibre optic sensing technology to conduct structural health monitoring is that, for the first time, design engineers can see the actual stresses that occur in a structure under operating conditions. It overcomes the limitations of traditional empirical design formulas.
The benefits of using fibre reinforced polymers are real and significant. On bridge rehabilitation projects, the benefits are immediate, with construction costs 40 to 60 per cent lower than conventional methods and minimal, if any, disruption to the travelling public. For new structures, the capital costs can be somewhat greater than traditional designs, but the facility lasts longer - much longer - resulting in a life-cycle engineering cost that is economically attractive.
For all structures, the maintenance costs are less - much less - than is the case in current practice. Over the long term, it is the maintenance costs that are burdening the Canadian taxpayer. The benefits of structural health monitoring are enormous and directly affect the economic well-being of Canadians.
The Taylor Bridge in Headingley, Manitoba was one of the first bridges to be constructed using fibre reinforced polymers and structural health monitoring. Currently, structural health monitoring is being conducted on Winnipeg's North Perimeter Bridge, Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge, Norwood / Main Street Bridge and the Golden Boy, located on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
Innovative structures and components continue to be designed and tested under actual field conditions, ever expanding the tools of conventional practice. One of ISIS Canada's most innovative designs is the steel-free, bridge deck concept. Following the successful construction of five of these bridges in Canada, the first steel-free bridge deck built outside the country was completed in Ames, Iowa in 2004.
ISIS Canada also provides the civil engineering design community with state-of-the-art technology that measures structural stress in operating facilities. It is a one-of-a-kind Fibre Bragg Grating read-out instrument, developed jointly by ISIS and IDERS Incorporated of Winnipeg. Outsiders have deemed this equipment superior to anything in the marketplace; consequently, IDERS is in the process of developing export opportunities.
Structural health monitoring continues to advance from conventional strain gauges to FOSs to major breakthroughs in wireless remote monitoring and the Civionics concept. Several years of data on the durability and performance of installed sensor systems are now available.
ISIS recognizes the availability of highly qualified personnel is critical to advancing technologies in the infrastructure sector. Therefore, pursuing new ways to enhance student education and practical training is another key priority of the ISIS network. This component is evolving as a major accomplishment for the network.