Materials Engineering

Material engineers improve the road you travel on, the coal used to fuel a factory, and the sidewalk in your neighborhood. Through their study of asphalt and bituminous materials, roads and sidewalks last longer and fuels, like coal, are more energy efficient.

The Materials area of emphasis in Civil Engineering provides freedom for students to develop a plan of study that will meet individual goals. Students take a broad range of courses including chemistry, construction, geology, mathematics, mechanics, and other engineering disciplines. Historically, the area has continuously maintained a balance between theoretical, experimental and practice-based approaches to solving problems. The Materials Engineering faculty are dedicated to teaching and research. The Materials Engineering Research Facilities offer hands-on experiences to undergraduate and graduate students.

Civil Engineering's Materials group has a loyal alumni network in both academia and private practice around the world. Research is divided into two broad themes: Asphalt and Bituminous Materials, and Portland Cement and Concrete.The American Concrete Institute at Purdue University also offers opportunities for students to bridge the gap between academic learning and professional practice.


April 11, 2019

Purdue team wins national asphalt mixture design competition

A team of Purdue civil engineering undergraduate and graduate students has won the inaugural national asphalt mixture design competition. Sponsored by CRH Materials Americas, Inc., the largest construction materials provider in North America, a total of 10 university teams competed to see which team could design the best performing asphalt mixture at the lowest cost.
December 17, 2018

Dr. Rebecca McDaniel elected to ASTM International Board of Directors

Rebecca S. McDaniel, P.E., Ph.D., technical director at the North Central Superpave Center at Purdue University, has been elected to the board of directors of ASTM International, an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.
October 17, 2018

A novel, nondestructive test for road readiness

Sometimes big innovations are made through small steps. Civil engineering researchers at Purdue are developing a way to test the quality of newly laid concrete — through vibrations. Currently, quality testing for laid concrete consists of retrieving a sample from the site, taking it back to a laboratory, and then testing its compression strength. Associate Professor Na "Luna" Lu of the Lyles School believes she and her graduate students have developed a better, faster method.
October 15, 2018

Wood nanocrystals strengthen concrete, sustainably

By infusing concrete with microscopic crystals made from wood cellulose, Purdue Professor Pablo Zavattieri, along with researchers from Purdue's School of Materials Engineering and Oregon State University, have shown they can make concrete stronger. This project, which started in 2011 with a National Science Foundation grant, is now moving from the laboratory to the real world with a bridge under construction in northern California this year.
June 28, 2018

Creature feature: Twisting cracks impart superhero toughness to animals

Super-resilient materials found in the animal kingdom owe their strength and toughness to a design strategy that causes cracks to follow the twisting pattern of fibers, preventing catastrophic failure. Researchers in a recent series of papers have documented this behavior in precise detail and also are creating new composite materials modeled after the phenomenon. The work was performed by a team of researchers at Purdue University in collaboration with University of California, Riverside.
March 29, 2018

Miguel A. Montoya receives 2018 AAPT scholarship

Current Civil Engineering PhD student Miguel A. Montoya was selected by the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (AAPT) to receive the 2018 AAPT scholarship. The scholarship is funded by the association with the purpose of increasing the number of scientists and engineers available for careers in the general area of asphalt binder and mixture technologies.
February 23, 2018

Purdue researchers show concrete infused with wood nanocrystals is stronger, plan to use it in California bridge

Purdue University researchers studying whether concrete is made stronger by infusing it with microscopic-sized nanocrystals from wood are moving from the laboratory to the real world with a bridge that will be built in California this spring. The researchers have been working with cellulose nanocrystals, byproducts generated by the paper, bioenergy, agriculture and pulp industries, to find the best mixture to strengthen concrete, the most common man-made material in the world.
February 19, 2018

Jan Olek to deliver keynote lecture at ACerS conference

Jan Olek, Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the North Central Superpave Center (NCSC), will give the Della Roy Lecture at the 9th Advances in Cement Based Materials conference to be held June 11-12, 2018 in State College, PA.
February 8, 2018

Leila Sadeghi wins first place in LTPP International Data Analysis Contest

Leila Sadeghi, recent PhD graduate and current postdoc research associate of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, was named a winner in the Graduate category of the 2016-17 Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) International Data Analysis Contest at the 97th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.
January 26, 2018

Temperature swings could cause pothole problems for drivers

Motorists enjoying days of above-freezing temperatures after shivering through frigid single digits may encounter a jarring reality by spring. Incidents of freezing-thawing temperatures this winter may result in troublesome potholes as the season progresses. John Haddock, a civil engineering professor and director of Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program, said the drastic nature of temperature swings isn't as much of a factor as the temperatures themselves.
April 26, 2017

Warda Ashraf receives 2017 College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award

Warda Ashraf, a PhD Candidate working with Professor Jan Olek in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, has been named as recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award. This award by the Purdue College of Engineering recognizes an outstanding PhD candidate who has demonstrated excellence in research through peer-reviewed publications, awards for research, leadership, academic achievements and participation in professional societies.
October 24, 2016

Undergrads create energy-absorbing materials

Professor Pablo Zavattieri's research laboratory in the basement of Purdue's Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering looks like a toy shop or carpenter's workshop. Geometric models, connected with splices of metal measuring tape and aluminum tubing, are scattered about. Nearby is a handful of brightly colored, triangular models made of orange, yellow, pink and green bendy straws. There are several foot-long, accordion-shaped origami paper models connected with a nut and bolt at each end that, when fully spun on their ends, rotate and collapse into an inch-thick disk.
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