19. October 2021 | Magazine:

Keeping a close eye on the safety of bridges A short portrait of Johannes Rathgen from the Research Training Group 2075

When constructions age, their structural safety can also suffer. But how do you determine whether a reinforced concrete or prestressed concrete bridge is still safe? Johannes Rathgen is developing a method for assessing structural safety in his doctoral project. The civil engineer is a doctoral student in the Research Training Group 2075 ”Modelling the constitutional evolution of building materials and structures with respect to aging” in the Core Research Area “Future City”. We introduce Johannes Rathgen in a short portrait.

Johannes Rathgen at the joint Summer School of the Research Training Group with the Collaborative Research Centre 837 of the Ruhr University Bochum. Picture credits: Johannes Rathgen/TU Braunschweig

Who are you and what is your research topic?

My name is Johannes Rathgen and I am research assistant at the Institute of Building Materials, Concrete Construction and Fire Safety (iBMB) in the Division of Concrete Construction. I studied civil engineering at TU Braunschweig and already had the opportunity to learn about the work of RTG 2075 during my time as student assistant. After graduating, I decided to apply for the Research Training Group. For now, my research focuses on the structural safety of existing concrete structures, with a special focus on bridges.

Which research question are you working on?

I am working on the evaluation of shear capacity of concrete structures and how the prediction accuracy for the design can be improved. Currently, the focus is on haunched beams, as they are often used in bridges. In this context, possibilities for monitoring as well as the detection of damages are also important.

What inspires you about your research?

I am fascinated by the fact that the topic is extremely relevant and directly related to practice. In the news, there are often reports of bridges, which are damaged due to aging and have to be strengthened or even replaced as a consequence. If we are able to estimate the structural safety of bridge structures more accurately through better models and approaches, we will make a significant contribution to future planning, but in particular also to the maintenance of existing structures.

Why is your topic relevant to the Future City?

The aging of building materials and structures has a significant influence on the durability of our structures. Accordingly, a realistic assessment of the structural safety of existing and future infrastructure is very important. Furthermore, through better knowledge of the load-bearing behavior, structures can be designed more sustainable and possibly used for longer time.

What is special about participating in the Research Training Group “Modelling the constitutional evolution of building materials and structures with respect to aging”?

The special thing about the RTG is the interaction with doctoral students from other disciplines and the input for my own research it provides.