Lauren Stewart is associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Blast, Shock, and Impact Laboratory, one of just two facilities in the U.S. capable of simulating shock events on a variety of structures and materials. An ultrahigh-speed hydraulic actuator induces forces on the test structures for durations on the order of milliseconds to produce an impulsive blast-like load. This allows researchers to replicate shock events on structures in a controlled experimental setting. A high-speed data acquisition system collects data on how the structures respond.
Stewart’s research group has used the high-speed actuators to simulate vehicle impacts on guardrails and other highway safety structures. With respect to aviation applications, her lab could be used to test the performance of landing gear under repetitive landings or hard landings, as well as the performance of different fuselage designs and materials in response to bird strikes, other types of mid-air collisions, or simulated explosions.
Stewart envisions several problems specific to urban air mobility that the Blast, Shock, and Impact Lab can help address. “I never envisioned a city in which air taxis would repeatedly take off and land on buildings and parking structures. As structural engineers, we need to better understand how buildings perform under repeated heavy loadings and ensure that these structures are capable of withstanding the effects of repeated hard landings and potential collisions with aircraft.”
For more information on Stewart’s research and papers related to UAM, see: