The Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics (SESM) research area teaches and perform research on mechanics of solids, mechanics of structures, and structural engineering. Our research spans multiple dimensions:

  • At the micro level we seek to improve our understanding of materials through experiments and numerical simulation.
  • At the next level up, we perform challenging laboratory experiments and computer simulations to better understand the response of structural components.
  • Moving further up, our group examines the safety and performance of complex structures such as building, bridges, dams and nuclear containment structures subjected to extreme events such as earthquakes, aging and loads.
  • Finally, at the societal level, we seek to refine our understanding of the impacts of extreme events on community risk and resilience.

Core course topics include mechanics of materials, advanced topics in design of concrete and steel structures, dynamics and earthquake engineering, and life-cycle assessment of buildings and infrastructure. At the graduate level, our students pursue either MS or PhD degrees, and many perform research that can involve laboratory experimentation, numerical simulation, basic theory, or a combination of these. Students pursuing an MS degree do so through 30 semester hours of coursework, and optionally can substitute a research report or a longer thesis for some of those semester hours. The report or thesis work is usually publishable as a conference paper or a journal article. The PhD degree requires additional coursework as well as a dissertation.

A CU Boulder structural engineering degree prepares graduates to be a global leader in structural design, performing applied research, or entering the professoriate as a teacher or researcher. Our graduates address some of the world’s most challenging problems through civil engineering.