Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Foley, Christopher

Second Advisor

Heinrich, Stephen

Third Advisor

Vinnakota, Sriramulu


While the primary objective of a structural engineer during the design phase is to create a safe and serviceable structure, the secondary goal is usually to optimize the structure for cost. Many different optimization algorithms are available to engineers; however, this thesis focuses specifically on genetic algorithms. Most structural design carried out using genetic algorithms begins when members within a user-created building topology are assigned random structural shapes. This occurs many times, creating a population of different frames. These frames are each evaluated based on appropriate criteria for strength or serviceability. By using a process analogous to Darwin's survival of the fittest theory, better performers are more likely to be kept and placed in a mating pool. Information is exchanged at random between these surviving frames, thereby creating a set of new designs. By repeating these steps, an optimized design eventually presents itself through a process of simulated evolution. Research in the field has focused on demonstrating the uses and capabilities of the algorithm, but the resulting programs are generally limited to specific applications and require hard-coding of parameters using research-grade computer codes. This thesis attempts to utilize an application programming interface found in a well-known commercial software package, SAP2000, to create a user-friendly method of optimizing steel frames with a genetic algorithm.



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