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Research Areas

Architectural Engineering

Architectural/Building Systems Engineering research covers topics related to the design and operation of high performance, energy-efficient buildings. It includes experimental and modeling research on thermal and visual comfort, indoor environmental quality, building envelope systems, dynamic façades, lighting and daylighting design and control, HVAC and thermal control systems, indoor air quality and ventilation, solar heating and cooling systems, innovative renewable energy technologies in buildings, building energy modeling and optimization, sustainable and green building design.

Research facilities include full-scale research and testing laboratories located at the Bowen Lab and the new Center for High Performance Buildings at Herrick Labs.

Construction Engineering

CEM research includes: construction sensing; smart construction; construction analytics; simulation modeling for design and construction; disaster risk reduction; underground infrastructure sustainability; human factors; profitability and risk management; construction QC/QA; contract management with information technology; dispute resolution; coupled dynamics of urban systems; resilience and robustness of infrastructure systems; service-learning; building information modeling; virtual design and construction; mixed reality; safe excavation; lean construction; and facilities engineering.

Environmental Engineering

Research and education in environmental engineering covers a wide range of issues, including remediation of contaminated soils and sediments, industrial and solid waste treatment, water and wastewater treatment, air pollution measurement and control, urban and agricultural air and water quality management, understanding the environmental fate of pollutants, and sustainable engineering.

Geomatics Engineering

Currently three main techniques are represented: Global Positioning System (GPS); Classical Surveys; and Modern Data Collection Techniques/Lidar. Geomatics Research Facilities.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical research facilities provide means to examine the nature and validity of strength and compressibility theories and their application to stability and settlement analysis.

Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineering

Hydraulic and hydrology engineers are involved with almost all aspects of water and water-related works. The scale of problems range from small structures such as culverts to very large dams. The common tasks encountered by engineers in the field are the hydraulic design of structures, implementation of designs, and maintenance of structures. In the academic world, we are also responsible for checking existing designs, and as more data become available, modifying existing design procedures or developing new designs, and transferring new technology to the practitioners. Some examples follow:

  • Management of surface water resources: This aspect pertains to development of appropriate rainfall and runoff estimates to design structures, proper drainage of surface waters, and to quantify risk and uncertainty involved with the design.
  • Design of water distribution systems: We provide the basic analysis and design of water distribution systems.
  • Management of groundwater resources: This involves regulating stream flow, managing groundwater withdrawal strategies for safe yield for agricultural, industrial, and municipal demands so as not to cause adverse effects in terms of depleting stream flows and lowering of groundwater table.
  • Water quality issues: Given the close connection between water and environmental issues, engineers work closely with relevant groups to meet water quality standards for lakes, streams and also over watersheds.
  • Hydraulics of rivers and open channels: Engineers deal with problems of sedimentation, and the effects of scour on river banks and bridge piers.

In addition, water plays an important role in many other aspects of Civil Engineering as in water-structure interaction, behavior of soils, material properties, and so on. Hydraulics and hydrologists often work in collaboration with Mechanical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Agricultural and Biological Engineers, Agronomists, Researchers in Forestry to solve problems that require an integrated effort. Hydraulics & Hydrology Research Facilities.

Materials Engineering

The Bituminous Laboratory facilities located at Purdue University contain all conventional and Superpave asphalt cement and mixture test equipment required for binder classification and mixture design. Test equipment for conducting laboratory accelerated wheel track and full-scale accelerated testing are also included in these facilities. The Concrete Laboratory provides practical, hands-on investigation of the mechanical properties of concrete and aggregates. The Charles Pankow Concrete Materials Laboratory has facilities for specialized in-depth analysis of building materials, in particular, cement and concrete. Recent projects have included studies on the early hydration of cement, sulfate attack on concrete by SEM backscatter techniques, the freeze-thaw durability of high-strength concrete, alkali silica reactivity and means to minimize it, influence of silica fume on the pore structure of concrete and image analysis characterization of cement microstructure. This internationally known laboratory was named after Dr. Charles Pankow, President of the Charles Pankow Building, Ltd, whose generous donation has provided for the purchase and maintenance of a significant amount of the equipment found in the lab. Materials Research Facilities.

Structural Engineering

Research in structural engineering provides a total program balanced with respect to basic and applied research, ranging from solid mechanics to high performance computing and earthquake engineering. These involve both theoretical and experimental investigations pertaining to common structural materials and forms, as well as those that show promise for future use in construction.

Transportation and Infrastructure Systems Engineering

The transportation computation laboratory contains facilities for analysis of data and the development and testing of models for all aspects of traffic control and vehicular flow, utilizing state-of-the-art software for demand forecasting, traffic simulation, geometric design, and transit operation planning. Models are used to study Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and to optimize traffic management and control strategies. There is airport simulation capability that permits research and analysis on the design of airspace, airside, and landside facilities. A traffic signal systems laboratory provides "hands-on" experience using NEMA, 170, and 2070 type traffic signal controllers and cabinets. An instrumented traffic van provides the capability to measure traffic flows, speeds, and related characteristics. Purdue's direct tie to the State of Indiana's Geographic Information System (GIS) provides data for up-to-date specific modeling and planning studies. Transportation and Infrastructure Systems Research Facilities.