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Structural Health Monitoring

Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is a new aerospace technology that is increasingly being evaluated by industry and government as a method to reduce operational costs and improve the safety and reliability of aerospace vehicles. The SHM approach can provide continuous monitoring, inspection, and detection of damage in structures with minimal human involvement.

The Structures and Composites Laboratory in Stanford's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics is one one of the world's premier laboratories in this emerging field. The core of SHM technology is the development of self-sufficient systems using distributed sensor-actuator networks built in to an aircraft's or spacecraft's body. Automated sensing and analysis of information from these sensors is used as part of an overall vehicle health management strategy.

The purpose of SHM is not only to detect the presence and extent of structural defects, but to determine the effects of structural usage and provide an early indication of physical damage. The early warnings provided by an SHM system can then support remedial strategies before emerging structural damage can affect flight safety. The same technology could also be used to inform and enhance the design of future aircraft.

Every two years, the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring (IWSHM) is held at Stanford.