The cost of structural failures, and the expenses to mitigate such failures, have been quantified in broad economic terms by many institutions. In 1983, Battelle, in conjunction with NIST (NBS Special Publication 647-2), estimated the annual cost of fracture alone was ~$100 billion (~$250 billion in current-day dollars). The study estimated that roughly half of that cost was reducible “by education and technology transfer or by R&D that is yet to be undertaken”. In many instances, the value of ensuring high accuracy in predicting structural reliability is to fully understand and quantify the boundaries that define when failure initiates, and guide the design process to ensure that normal operations stay close to that boundary (to economic advantage), yet still have sufficient assurance that failure will not occur.
The value of structural reliability prediction also lies in the ability to enhance the safety of engineered structures by exploiting gained knowledge and understanding of inelastic deformation. This insight can be used to design structures that “fail safe” and that structural failure occurs within the performance envelope. For example, while a car crash should be avoided, accidents are in the performance envelope of a motor vehicle. Thus, they are designed and constructed with energy-absorbing materials that serve to avoid injury to motorists. Safety glass too is designed to fail in a safe manner. Bike and motorcycle helmets are examples that also drive understanding the damage, failure processes that occur and ensuring that design requirements include environments that will destroy them.
The Structural Reliability Partnership (SRP) delivers state-of-the-art, validated models, simulation capabilities, experimental discoveries, novel test capabilities, and engineering best practices for predicting the reliability and failure modes of engineered structures. The SRP leverages multi-institutional collaboration and investment to perform model development, materials evaluation, and high-performance simulations, resulting in advances that “buy down” the future costs of structural failure. By participating in the SRP, institutions increase their access to state-of-the-art in the field, and lower the time and cost of research. Using a combination of ‘Model Materials’ and ‘Challenge Scenarios’ to focus community involvement, the SRP exposes deficiencies in current state-of-the-art, produces advanced capabilities for predictive reliability engineering, facilitates technology transfer between governmental and private entities, and trains the next generation research and development workforce.
The primary in-person activity of the SRP is its annual workshop. Agenda items for the workshop include: (1) an overview of SRP activities and accomplishments, (2) reports on ongoing challenge scenarios, (3) reports and highlights from member institutions on independent work, (4) discussion and prioritization of the most significant gaps in reliability assessment, (5) coordination on research investments for addressing gaps, and (6) discussion on next steps for the SRP. The second-annual SRP workshop will be hosted by NIST on July 31-August 1, 2018 at their facility in Boulder, CO. Information on the meeting agenda and travel arrangements can be found here. Questions can be directed to the meeting host, Frank DelRio, at firstname.lastname@example.org.