Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics


Current research in the area of Sructural Engineering places a heavy emphasis on the design and behavior of structures subject to loading from natural hazards such as high winds, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Laboratory testing makes use of the new spatio-temporal hurricane wind load test facility which can be linked to wind tunnels, as well as a shake table. Research efforts also include translating the results of testing into reliability and performance-based design provisions for new design. Other topics under study include bridges (timber, steel, concrete, long-span), new materials (shape-memory alloys, composites, fly-ash as insulation), analysis techniques, and safety.

Current research in the area of structural mechanics includes two and three-dimensional finite element analysis of metal forming processes, mechanics of large deformation during consolidation of soils, fracture mechanics in concrete, metals and composites, flow analysis of large elastic-plastic deformations, the application of mixture theory to the analysis of composites, mechanics of composite plates and shells, nondestructive evaluation, fracture mechanics, and behavior of smart materials. The research program in mechanics includes joint efforts with the mechanics group within the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Ongoing research projects within the Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics division are listed below by their principal investigator. Please use the more info links to view additional details about these projects.

Suren Chen

Rollover Risk Assessment and Prevention of Large Trucks in Windy High-plain Areas

The rollover accident is the most dangerous type of accident for high-sided trucks. This project studies the rollover and injury risk of large trucks in high-plains areas where wind is strong. Based on the understanding of risks, some prevention strategies are studied to prevent the occurrence of accidents and protect drivers from serious injury.

Framework of Performance-based Lifetime Analysis on Vital Long-span Bridges

This project studies reliability-based analysis and design approaches for those long-span bridges that are not covered in the current specifications.

GIS-based Multiple Hazard Assessment of Coastal Structures

Several different natural hazards may threaten coastal structures. Spatial techniques are used to study the assessment of risks for these multiple hazards. Some prevention strategies are also studied.

More information on Suren Chen's research.

Richard Gutkowski

  • Cambering of Wood-Concrete Highway Bridges
  • Time-Dependent Loading of Repaired Timber Railroad Bridge Members
  • Performance Testing of Security Barriers to Department of State Classifications
  • Z-Spike Rejuvenation to Salvage Timber Railroad Members
  • Use of Salvaged Utility Poles in Roadway Bridges
  • Bus-Stop Shelters-Improved Safety

Paul Heyliger

Mechanics of Granular Media

Computational methods are being used to predict the global constitutive behavior and the mechanism of force transfer in materials formed by the contacting regions between particles of different sizes and shapes. Both two and three dimensional packings of elastic and coupled-field materials are currently being investigated.

Low-Density Fibrous Composites

Composite materials formed by combining fiber, binder, and air have extremely low density but very useful bulk properties. Collective arrangements of fibers are being studied to determine optimal microstructures for both mechanical and thermal behavior of these materials.

Smart Materials and Structures

Smart or adaptive structures are composed of materials with the ability to actuate or detect mechanical strain via application of electromagnetic field. In these studies, composite solids are being proposed and studied for novel and wide-ranging fields of application.

Mechanics of Nanostructures

Structures or components with fundamental dimensions of the order 10-9 are being studied both for inherent properties and for use as reinforcing elements in composite solids. Simulating the changes in behavior relative to scale is a unique and fascinating challenge in this work.

Highly-Flexible Structures

Most structures are designed to be relative stiff so that they meet serviceability requirements. In this research, we focus on structures constructed of biomass undergoing large deformations and apply them to problems such as crash barriers and shock absorbers.

Vibration of Continuous Media

The vibrations of solid media with varying scale can be used for a variety of applications ranging from materials characterization to flaw detection. We combine theory with experiment to determine the role of periodic motion to a wide class of solid media.

More information on Paul Heyliger's research.