Additional Participants

Senior Personnel

Denis Keane
William Davids


Svetlana Vasic

Graduate Student

Shan Lu
Perrine Parrod

Undergraduate Student

Alina Petrell
Robert Pontau
Heather Merriman
Eric Emery
Aaron Martin
Julie Altenhoff
Lori Severy
Christopher Fournier
Travis Folsom

Technician, Programmer

Xenia Rofes
Edwin Nagy

Organizational Partners

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Maine Department of Transportation
National Institute for Standards and Technology
Exxon Research and Engineering Company
National Synchrotron Light Source
Northwestern University

Project Period

June 1, 1998-May 31, 2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



The primary theme of this career development plan is to promote, advance, and apply innovative experimental analysis techniques to heterogeneous construction materials. This theme applies to both the research and the educational components of the plan. Concrete and portland cement-based materials are the focus here, but many of the concepts and techniques developed will be applicable to wood, rock, composites, and other materials with a heterogeneous microstructure. The objective of the research is to quantify specific microstructural damage and failure mechanisms in cement-based materials through advanced experimentation and data analysis. In order for there to be significant advances in our ability to model and predict failure mechanisms, we must have a quantitative understanding of the physical microstructural processes involved. The research addresses this need for quantitative microstructural property versus performance data. The overall objective of the educational work is to update experimental mechanics and data analysis treatment in the undergraduate and graduate civil engineering curriculum, and to highlight the role of mechanics and materials in the different civil engineering subdisciplines. This objective will be realized through the integration of new classroom and laboratory modules into existing undergraduate and graduate courses. The cornerstone of the education program will be an innovative freshman level construction materials course in which the common themes of problem analysis and design are introduced to new engineering students using materials as the vehicle. The laboratory component of this course will be designed to reveal relationships between the material's microstructure and performance properties. The link between the research and education components is the innovative use of the laboratory. The ease of numerical simulations has in varying degrees altered the use of experimental analysis in both education and research. The goal of this workplan is therefore to emphasize the importance to mechanics and materials of working in "real" rather than "virtual" laboratories. As this work is multidisciplinary, collaborations with experts in digital image processing, cement microstructure and x-ray physics and planned.