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Valerie Tsao

Research Mentor: Dr. Henri Gavin
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Schaad
Topic: Experimental Validation of Tensegrity Structures and Their Potential in Deployable Post-Hazard Management

Abstract: Tensegrity is a structural property defined by isolating elements of continuous tension within and among elements of discontinuous compression, in which all components are subjected to some amount of pre-stress. While many sources in the past have sought to explain the fundamental concepts of tensegrity through convoluted mathematical concepts, this paper introduces a much more intuitive method of modeling tensegrity systems through the use of Gauss’ Principle of Least Constraint (GPLC). By applying this principle in a novel way towards tensegrity, we are able to investigate the dynamics of these structures and make predictions about how they will respond when disturbed (either in the presence of natural disasters like seismic activity or through more intentional human-causing forces). This new approach to the physical realization of tensegrity forms was tested through a combination of theoretical modeling, built prototypes of the 3-strut Kenneth Snelson prism, and microcontroller sensors. Potential deployable applications of tensegrity in post disaster management and recovery are also discussed.

Full Thesis: Tsao-Valerie_GCSThesis