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Sept. 28, 2016

Nizar Lajnef: Scaling the Mackinac Bridge

Sept. 28, 2016

Nizar Lajnef is an MSU associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Last week, he scaled the Mackinac Bridge to test sensors as part of a project with Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Southern California for the Federal Highway Administration.

At first, Nizar Lajnef said standing about 200 feet above the Straits of Mackinac was an “unnerving” experience.

But as he adjusted and got to the business at hand, he said it was “fun.”

Last week Lajnef and his team climbed onto the Mackinac Bridge to place a series of sensors on the iconic structure.

Nizar Lajnef Mackinac Bridge selfie

 “The first few minutes, going around the side of the bridge and climbing down, was a little unnerving,” said Lajnef, an MSU associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Then I got used to it, could see that the whole structure was stable. I thought ‘I’m still standing on stable ground.’”

For now, Lajnef is monitoring the sensors, making sure they do what they are supposed to do. Once they’ve passed that test, more will be installed.

Part of the value of these sensors is they are self-powering, gathering their energy from the vibrations of the vehicles that drive over the bridge.

Lajnef said testing the sensors to make sure they are functioning properly is an easy task.

“All we have to do is drive over the bridge,” he said. “We’ll have our laptop and an antenna and it will take about one second to upload the information.”

If all goes well, more sensors will be installed as early as next spring.

Story by Tom Oswald


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Photos courtesy Michigan Department of Transportation Photo Unit

By: Tom Oswald