Structural and Materials Engineering

The Structures and Materials Engineering (SME) program offers a unique integration of structural engineering, mechanics and materials science to the design, construction, maintenance, and monitoring of the civil infrastructure. The faculty in this area are considered to be one of the leading groups in the nation with respect to teaching, research and engineering practice. The group is well known for its research in earthquake engineering, especially related to inelastic response and behavior of reinforced concrete (RC), prestressed concrete (PC), and steel structures. The group also leads internationally in materials research focusing on performance-based design of high performance fiber reinforced cementitious composites (HPFRCC) for sustainable infrastructure systems, and mechanistic evaluation of concrete pavements. Recent work has been expanded to include composite structures (mixed RC and steel construction) and the use of various types of high performance fiber-reinforced cementitious materials for seismic resistant design of structures and the repair and retrofit of deteriorated structures, including those damaged by major earthquakes. The group also has expertise in the use of wireless sensors embedded or attached to structural members to monitor structural performance during both routine and extreme loading events. The analysis and testing of bridge structures and concrete pavements is another significant research area that is supported by state and federal transportation agencies. The structural engineering, concrete materials, and concrete pavements laboratories in the CEE Department are among the most versatile and best equipped facilities of their type in the U.S. A large variety of graduate courses are available to provide excellent preparation for students seeking positions in professional practice, as well as for students seeking a career in research and academics. Major research areas in the group include:

Earthquake resistant design of structural systems composed of reinforced concrete, prestressed concrete, steel, and high performance fiber reinforced cementitious composites. Projects range from simulated seismic testing of large scale structural components to dynamic response evaluation of structural systems subjected to earthquake ground motions.

Behavior of buildings and bridges under extreme loading conditions generated by man-made and natural hazards. Projects include investigations of the response of structural systems, including collapse potential, when subjected to seismic excitation, collision by heavy objects and blast effects. One goal of these analytical studies is to evaluate the use of new materials and technologies to create innovative structural systems that mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects of extreme loading events.

Design and validation of smart structure technologies for civil infrastructure systems. Current research is exploring the design of low-cost wireless structural monitoring systems, active sensors, design and fabrication of microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors, the creation of robust damage detection procedures and theoretical modeling of active/semi-active structural control systems. This research thrust is centered in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering but extends across traditional disciplinary boundaries to include researchers across the entire College of Engineering.

Evaluation and improvement of new and existing highway bridges for structural safety and remaining life. Projects include monitoring of bridges to measurement deflections and strains under extreme loading, as well as the evaluation of corrosion damage. Research is also aimed at the development of load and resistant factor design codes, evaluation of serviceability limit states and modeling of extreme events, and the use of advanced materials in the extension of service life of retrofitted bridge decks.

Design and development of high performance fiber reinforced cementitious composites for sustainable infrastructure. Projects include damage tolerant concrete for protective structure against multi-hazards, self-healing concrete for durable structure, self-sensing concrete for structural health monitoring, and self-thermally controlled concrete for green buildings.

Mechanistic evaluation of properties of concrete pavement to improve their durability and expected service life. Projects include studies of pavement joints that are subjected to repeated wheel loadings, shrinkage and tensile properties of concrete, and propagation of cracking through the depth of the slab.


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