Structural Engineering and Mechanics

Our research addresses tough questions by drawing upon multiple areas of expertise to address system failure, probing the limits of materials, techniques, and structures.

Sensing and Monitoring

How can we detect and quantify damage in structures through physical measurements and mathematical modeling?

Graduate student Danny Smyl working in the sensors and materials Lab

Solid Mechanics and Materials

How can we engineer more resilient materials by understanding their behavior at multiple length scales?


Probabilistic Approaches in Structural Engineering

How can we increase the safety and reliability of the structures using probabilistic tools and design?



Structural Behavior and Design

How do we develop new methods for analysis and design of resilient structures by studying mechanisms of failures at multiple scales?



Computational Mechanics

How can we model the physics of material behavior using analytical, experimental and computational tools?


Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics

How can we design resilient infrastructure?

The state of North Carolina is not known for its seismic activity; however, on August 9, 2020 at 8:07AM, near the town of Sparta, the largest earthquake to strike North Carolina in at least 100 years was recorded. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake (MMI 6) was preceded by several small foreshocks felt by local residents and followed by ~100 aftershocks.  Earthquake Engineering PhD Student Ariadne Palma and Professor Mervyn Kowalsky visited Sparta on the day of the earthquake and documented damage to residential structures such as shown in the photo. Using estimates of the weight of the masonry chimney, and an assumption of rocking response they were able to estimate accelerations in the range of 0.2g which were shown to be consistent with that estimated later by USGS.

Centers, Labs, and Facilities


The Master of Science (MS) degree requires a minimum of 31 semester hours of graduate study including up to 6 credit hours for a thesis and a final oral examination. The Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate study without a thesis. This degree is also available by distance education through Engineering Online.  Both degrees require 18 credit hours in structural engineering and mechanics, of which 12 hours must be taken from a set of core courses in structural analysis and design and solid mechanics.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree normally includes one academic year of full-time course work beyond the master’s degree. The major component of the Ph.D. program is preparation of a dissertation reporting the results of an original investigation that represents a significant contribution to knowledge.

Graduate Student Advising Information for Students in Structural Engineering and Mechanics


Course Number Course Name
CE 515 Advanced Strength of Materials
CE 522 Theory and Design of Prestressed Concrete
CE 523 Theory and Behavior of Steel Structures
CE 524 Analysis and Design of Masonry Structures
CE 525 Advanced Structural Analysis
CE 526 Finite Element Method in Structural Engineering
CE 528 Structural Design in Wood
CE 529 FRP Strengthening and Repair of Concrete Structures
CE 714 Stress Waves
CE 718 Constitutive Modeling of Engineering Materials
CE 721  Matrix and Finite Element Structural Analysis II
 CE 723  Advanced Structural Dynamics
 CE 724  Probabilistic Methods of Structural Engineering
 CE 725  Earthquake Structural Engineering
 CE 726  Advanced Theory of Concrete Structures
 CE 794  Advanced Topics in Structures and Mechanics