Dr Ulrike Dackermann
Structural engineer Dr Ulrike Dackermann comes to CVEN with expertise in structural dynamics, damage detection, structural health monitoring, non-destructive testing, artificial intelligence and timber engineering. She believes that integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in smart structural health monitoring systems can help generate more sophisticated and reliable inspection procedures, ensuring the sustainability of civil infrastructure. Dr Dackermann believes in having a wide vision while paying attention to detail.
While Ulrike’s initial civil engineering studies were completed in Germany, her PhD was completed in Sydney, so she is no stranger to this city. In fact, she is a custodian of one of our most beloved, iconic and useful structures: the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So, she has been helping to guard the health of our beloved ‘hanger’ by developing new damage assessment methods, using AI to analyse vibration measurements gathered from the bridge’s sensor system.
Ulrike is also helping to guard Sydney’s electricity supply. So much of our electricity system is held up by wood: a material substance prone to infestation and degradation requiring vigilant monitoring. As part of an ARC linkage project, Ulrike and her research team, with industry partner Ausgrid, have developed a screening tool that enables pole inspectors to distinguish healthy from unhealthy poles using wave-based detection and AI to locate invisible damage.
The use of AI in the post processing of structural monitoring data is a growing and exciting field and is essentially interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinarity is vital to this academic who ardently wants her work to be about social interaction and the meeting of minds as well as algorithms.
Her broad vision is played out in her wanderlust. One of her big goals is to ensure her two sons are truly global citizens. She herself has travelled widely and loves what is remote, pristine, beautiful and inspiring. As she travels, her work travels with her. As a true engineer, she has seen and identified problems, then tried to help solve them.
Working with Engineers Without Borders in Nepal she assisted in designing improved mud brick stoves: re-directing harmful fumes away from the lungs of women cooking for their families. She further developed these ideas in Tanzania where she utilised local igneous rock to create highly efficient stoves that reduced fuel needs for fuel starved communities. Simple innovations perhaps, but these practical, real life solutions ripple outward conserving energy, improving human health and diminishing deforestation. Dr Dackermann recognises her own drive to engage with the world in a very down to earth, hands-on way to create balance in the life of a researching academic.
Ulrike sees a workplace as a community and has come to CVEN with the hope of feeling less isolated as a woman in a male dominated field.