Dr. Alejandro Strachan, professor of materials engineering, develops methods to predict how materials behave using computational modeling. His group examines materials on the atomic scale, doing simulations to study each atom individually. He focuses on modeling of condensed-phase chemistry, active materials and nanotechnology, as well as mechanical properties of structural materials.
Strachan is also involved with Purdue’s nanoHUB -- created by the National Science Foundation-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology. A research software code that he developed allows users to perform molecular dynamics simulations of materials using a Web browser. It is a rare resource that gives researchers and students the ability to do industrial and research-grade simulations with complex calculations. Sophomores, for example, can perform electronic structure calculations via cloud scientific computing, using simulations previously restricted to researchers.
“Students have access to tools that would have been unthinkable when I joined Purdue seven years ago,” Strachan says. “It will bring more kids to engineering, lower the barriers to access and people will use these tools to develop knowledge.”