© 2012-2013 by Stephen L. Keefe
Top Innovators: U.S. Universities
The below listing highlights leading U.S. Universities for civil engineering research and innovation, dividied into a number of tiers based on estimate testing and research capabilities.
When it comes to research & development in the field of civil engineering, the University of California, Berkeley earns powerhouse status. To try to name every specific area in which Berkeley produces cutting edge civil engineering research would likely amount to generating a laundry list of nearly every major branch of structural and geotechnical engineering. Buttressed by the impressive laboratory resources at work in the University’s Structures and Materials Laboratory, UC Berkeley professors work toward breakthroughs in structural analysis and design involving countless types of construction materials. Civil engineering experts at UC Berkeley also develop a wide range of new earthquake design methods and seismic devices, such as in the work done through the Berkeley-led Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. UC Berkeley researchers also have access to the earthquake engineering resources of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of California, Berkeley. The University also conducts significant research in soil/structure interaction, to name another exemplary research area.
Drawing in part from the capabilities of its Newmark Structural Engineering Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign possesses a formidable research and development capability in civil engineering. U of I civil engineering experts conduct cutting edge research in numerous areas, with some of its strong suits including seismic analysis and design, structural reliability involving a wide range of construction materials, and research regarding soil-structure interaction. The University of Illinois civil engineering faculty also plays a leadership role in the Mid-America Earthquake Center, participates in the Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials, the Center for Cement Composite Materials, and the Fabricated Geomembrane Institute, and publishes research through its Structural Research Series. Also, U of I earthquake engineering experts have the impressive facilities of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of Illinois at their disposal.
Faculty based at the University of Texas at Austin work on advancing civil engineering technology through a wide spectrum of activities. Geotechnical experts conduct a broad range of research, with strong capabilities, for example, in geotechnical earthquake engineering and liquefaction analysis. With help from the robust resources of UT Austin's Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory, the structural engineering faculty pushes the innovative envelope in areas such as design and behavior of reinforced concrete, prestressed concrete, and steel structures, as well as in earthquake engineering. Some other exemplary capabilities at Austin include research in mechanics such as in structural dynamics, materials (e.g., advancements in concrete technology), and transportation (for example, studies of pavement performance). The University's International Center for Aggregates Research, operated jointly with Texas A&M University to advance innovation in the use of concrete aggregates, provides another example of UT Austin's leading role in technologically advancing civil engineering. UT Austin also possesses the significant earthquake engineering facilities of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of Texas at Austin.
The Georgia Institute of Technology spearheads research across numerous facets of civil engineering, including significant strides in the structural and geosystems branches of the field. Georgia Tech's impressively-equipped Structures and Materials Laboratory contributes to driving cutting edge research in areas such as structural analysis and design, advanced structural materials, and earthquake engineering. Tech also leads in developing computer-aided structural engineering techniques with its GT STRUDL software. Through the university's geosystems engineering research laboratories, encompassing research centers in fields such as particulate media, in-situ testing, geomaterials, soil dynamics, and fracture mechanics, Georgia Tech helps pushes forward innovation in geotechnical engineering. Some other exemplary research areas in geosystems at Tech include geotechnical earthquake engineering and geosynthetics development.
Purdue's Bowen Laboratory may rank as the largest and most modern structural engineering research facility in the world. At 66,000 square feet and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, the Bowen Lab provides Purdue University researchers with a massive capability to advance civil engineering technology. Not surprisingly, Purdue professors and experts conduct a vast amount of structural engineering research, some exemplary areas including design and analysis of steel and both reinforced and prestressed concrete structures, earthquake engineering, fatigue analysis, structural rehabilitation, and extreme loading of structures. A host of additional research facilities serve under the Purdue banner, including the Bituminous Laboratory facilities, the Charles Pankow Concrete Materials Laboratory, and the Bechtel Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory. This array of research facilities helps to fuel Purdue's research across the breadth of the civil engineering field, including such areas as foundation engineering, soil and rock mechanics, and design of novel materials such as high performance concrete and advanced pavement.
The University of Michigan's numerous research laboratories cover the full spectrum of civil engineering activities, with some exemplary areas of excellence including structural engineering and materials research. Michigan professors and research experts draw sizable benefits from resources such as the Advanced Civil Engineering Materials Research Laboratory, the Laboratory for Intelligent Structural Technology, the Cementitious Composites Laboratory, and the Structural Engineering Laboratory. Some other University research and development assets include Michigan's Computational Structural Simulation Laboratory and the F.E. Richard Soil Dynamics Laboratory.
With a large civil engineering faculty and significant research capabilities, Texas A&M ranks as a leader in civil engineering innovation. Supported by its cutting edge Haynes Coastal Engineering Laboratory and the Offshore Technology Research Center run jointly with UT Austin, Texas A&M claims a leading innovative role in coastal and offshore engineering. Texas A&M faculty and experts also conduct significant research in areas including structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, and materials engineering, taking advantage of the capabilities of facilities such as A&M's High Bay Structural and Materials Testing Laboratory and Advanced Characterization of Infrastructure Materials Laboratory.
The University of California, San Diego possesses tremendous resources for structural engineering research housed in the Charles Lee Powell Laboratories at UCSD. An extensive number of research laboratories operate under the umbrella of UCSD's Powell Laboratories, including the University's Structural Systems Laboratory, Structural Components Laboratory, Composite Structures Laboratory, Structural Dynamics Laboratory, Composites Manufacturing and Characterization Laboratories, and Advanced Composites Manufacturing Laboratory. UCSD also claims the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of California, San Diego as a significant earthquake engineering resource.
With an origin stemming back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center at Stanford University conducts comprehensive structural and geotechnical research with an eye to guarding infrastructure against seismic events.
Utilizing the resources of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at Cornell, Cornell University researchers conduct cutting edge testing that explores the seismic loading of advanced structural designs and materials.
The Garuda Cluster at the California Institute of Technology enables CalTech researchers to conduct high performance computer simulations to further research in earthquake engineering.
Northwestern University possesses a sizable civil engineering faculty conducting research bolstered by significant structural engineering laboratories and materials testing facilities.
Aided by University resources such as the Wisconsin Structures & Materials Testing Laboratory and the Modified Asphalt Research Center, faculty and experts at the University of Wisconsin - Madison conduct innovative research in many areas of the civil engineering field.
The Pennsylvania State University serves as home to a large civil engineering faculty and significant research activities, including innovative facilities such as Penn State's Protective Technology Center.
Some leading centers of civil engineering research at Johns Hopkins University include the Smart Structures & Hybrid Testing Laboratory, the Coastal Engineering Laboratory, and the Thin-Walled Structures Laboratory.
Armed with the impressive facilities of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at UC Davis, faculty and experts at the University of California, Davis conduct significant earthquake engineering research, among many other civil engineering areas.
Faculty and experts at Columbia University in the City of New York use cutting edge facilities such as the Carleton Laboratory to conduct research in civil engineering fields including, for example, structural health monitoring, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, and advanced materials.
Research facilities at Lehigh University, including such resources as the ATLSS Multi-directional Experimental Laboratory and the Fritz Engineering Laboratory, rank as some of the largest civil engineering research facilities in the United States. ATLSS also houses the robust earthquake engineering research facilities of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at Lehigh.
University of Minnesota faculty and researchers innovate across many branches of civil engineering, such as in the significant research accomplished via the university's Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing Laboratory, which is a focal point of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of Minnesota.
Among many other areas of innovative work at the University of Washington, the university's Structural Research Laboratory enables significant research in structural engineering.
Technical experts at the University of Colorado at Boulder have access to such modernized facilities as the Geotechnical Centrifuge Laboratory, which includes one of the largest centrifuges in the world.
The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York possesses an immense earthquake engineering research capability by virtue of its two distinct testing complexes operating as the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of Buffalo, SUNY.
Leading Test Labs Location Map
First Tier of Civil Engineering Innovators
Second Tier of Civil Engineering Innovators
The Thomas M. Murray Structures and Materials Laboratory provides an impressive array of modern research tools to help Virginia Tech's faculty and technical experts advance progress in fields such as bridge engineering, earthquake engineering, sustainable infrastructure materials, and thin-walled structures.
Using the shake tables of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at the University of Nevada, Reno, experts at the University of Nevada, Reno conduct breakthrough research in earthquake engineering.
With the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at Rensselaer, experts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have access to a significant earthquake engineering testing facility.
The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at UC Los Angeles provides researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles with a significant asset for conducting earthquake engineering testing.
The University of California, Santa Barbara, partnering with the University of Southern California and Brigham Young University, operates the significant earthquake engineering testing resources of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation at UC Santa Barbara.
Additional Leading Testing Laboratories
Additional Civil Engineering Innovators