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Construction equipment dumps dirt in a large truck.

Geotechnical & Materials Engineering

Virtually any civil engineering project requires the use of the earth’s resources to provide the building materials needed to erect the structures on this foundation.

The geotechnical engineer is responsible for the subsurface investigation and the analysis of soil properties which provide the basis of the foundation design. Geotechnical engineering projects include the design of shallow and deep foundations, slope stability analysis, rock fall mitigation, design and construction of dams, tunnels, and levees.

The materials engineer must be familiar with the properties of construction and structural materials so that an economic use of resources can be included in the design process.

Research Areas

The Geotechnical and Materials Engineering faculty members are active in a broad range of research areas, including:

  • Multi-scale mechanics of granular materials and extreme environment
  • Polymers, geomaterials, and composites
  • Radiation based imaging, diffraction, non-invasive, and quantitative characterization of geomaterials and advanced materials at micro, meso, and macro scale
  • Sustainable materials and pavement engineering
  • Engineered soils research group

And they are able to better predict and control soil behavior by:

  • Creating new soil materials –“tunable” clay-polymer composites
  • Designing soil mineralogical composition
  • Modifying pore fluid conditions
  • Incorporating mechanical stabilizers
  • Developing an insightful understanding of micro-scale mechanics
  • Advanced laboratory testing of soils including biaxial, true triaxial, resonant column, and torsional shear
  • NDE health monitoring of structures
  • Flow through porous media
  • Fiber reinforced composites
  • Multi-scale modeling and direct numerical simulations


» Khalid Alshibli, Professor and Group Coordinator

» Baoshan Huang, Edwin G. Burdette Professor

» Angel Palomino, Assistant Professor

» Dayakar Penumadu, Fred N. Peebles Professor and IAMM Chair of Excellence