Irving J. Oppenheim    

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Professor of Architecture


2500-ft above the ground on El Capitan, Yosemite Valley.  (More climbing images can be found at


Research Interests

Structural mechanics, building design, robotics, and infrastructure sensing.

Educational Background

B.E. 1968, The Cooper Union, M.S. 1970, Lehigh University, Ph.D. 1972, Cambridge University

Research Activities

My activities over the years have included research on earthquake response of structures, the economic losses associated with the performance of water and transportation systems following earthquakes, and earthquake-induced fire losses.  I have conducted research on the synthesis of structural systems in architecture, and a series of studies on the structural behavior of masonry in geometric structures such as historic vaults, arches, and domes.  More recently I have studied the behavior of tensegrity structures, including their highly nonlinear response and vibration performance.  In the field of robotics I directed research on path planning, geometric reasoning, force-cognitive excavation, tools to find energy-optimal manipulator paths, control of  manipulators with flexible links, and dynamically stable (balancing) robots.  I also directed work that used spatial grammars in processing spatial constraints in robot task planning applied to coal mining, and rule-based programming applied in simulation and planning for robotized building construction.  Most recently I have been working on devices for civil infrastructure sensing, including MEMS ultrasonic phased arrays, MEMS transducers for acoustic emission testing, piezoelectric devices for power scavenging, wireless Lamb wave transducers in bridge girder geometries, and an IC microsensor to measure chloride concentration.

Selected Publications, 2000-present.

Oppenheim, I. J., and W. O. Williams, “Geometric Effects in an Elastic Tensegrity Structure,” Journal of Elasticity, Vol. 59(1), 2000.

Oppenheim, I. J., and W. O. Williams, “Damping and vibration control in a three-bar tensegrity structure,” Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Vol. 14(3), 2001. 

Oppenheim, I. J., and W. O. Williams, “Vibration of an Elastic Tensegrity Structure,” European Journal of Mechanics A/ Solids, Vol. 20, 1023-1031, 2001. 

Smith, J., J. Hodgins, I. Oppenheim, and A. Witkin, "Modeling Truss Structures using Optimization," SIGGRAPH, San Antonio, July 2002.

Oppenheim, I., Jain, A., and Greve, D., “Electrical characterization of coupled and uncoupled MEMS ultrasonic transducers,” IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 297-304, March 2003.  

Oppenheim, I., Jain, A., and Greve, D., “MEMS ultrasonic transducers for the testing of solids,” IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 305-311, March 2003.

Ayers, J., Greve, D. W., and Oppenheim, I. J., “Energy Scavenging for Sensor Applications using Structural Strains,” SPIE Smart Structures Conference SN09: Smart Structures and NDE for Civil Infrastructure, San Diego, March 2003. 

Oppenheim, I. J., and W. O. Williams, “Vibrations and Design of Tensegrity Structures,” Revue Francaise de Genie Civil, 377-389, July 2003.

Nieuwenhuis, J., Neumann, J., Greve, D., and Oppenheim, I., “Generation and detection of guided waves using PZT wafer Transducers,” IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. Vol. 52 (11), pp. 2103-2111, 2005. 

Greve, D. W., Oppenheim, I. J., and Tyson, N. L., “Lamb Wave Behavior in Bridge Girder Geometries,” SPIE Smart Structures/NDE Joint Conference, Paper 6174-84, San Diego, February 2006.

Ozevin, D., Greve, D. W., Oppenheim, I. J., and Pessiki. S. P., “Resonant capacitive MEMS acoustic emission transducers,” Smart Mater. Struct. 15 (2006) 1863-1871. 

Cao, F., Greve, D. W., Oppenheim, I. J., and VanBriesen, J., “Microscale Chloride Sensor,” Electrochemical Society Fall Meeting, Cancun, Mexico, October 2006.

Greve, D. W., Sohn, H., Yue, C. P., and Oppenheim, I. J., “An inductively-coupled Lamb wave transducer,” IEEE Transactions on Sensors, accepted for publication.

Send me email at, or contact me by phone at 412-268-2950.  (A more complete list of papers on infrastructure sensing, with links to pdf full-text versions, can be found on the web site of David W. Greve,  Follow the links to “Research,” then to “Infrastructure sensing,” and then to individual “Current and past projects.”)