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Structural Engineering and Mechanics

Our research addresses tough questions by drawing upon multiple areas of expertise to address system failure, probing the limits of materials, techniques, and structures.

The state of North Carolina is not known for its seismic activity; however, on August 9, 2020, at 8:07 AM, near the town of Sparta, the largest earthquake to strike North Carolina in at least 100 years was recorded. The 5.1 magnitude earthquake (MMI 6) was preceded by several small foreshocks felt by residents and followed by ~100 aftershocks.  Earthquake Engineering PhD Student Ariadne Palma and Professor Mervyn Kowalsky visited Sparta on the day of the earthquake and documented damage to residential structures such as shown in the photo. Using estimates of the weight of the masonry chimney, and an assumption of rocking response they were able to estimate accelerations in the range of 0.2g which were shown to be consistent with that estimated later by USGS.


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The Master of Science (MS) degree requires a minimum of 31 semester hours of graduate study including up to 6 credit hours for a thesis and a final oral examination. The Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate study without a thesis. This degree is also available by distance education through Engineering Online.  Both degrees require 18 credit hours in structural engineering and mechanics, of which 12 hours must be taken from a set of core courses in structural analysis and design and solid mechanics.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree normally includes one academic year of full-time coursework beyond the master’s degree. The major component of the Ph.D. program is the preparation of a dissertation reporting the results of an original investigation that represents a significant contribution to knowledge.

Graduate Student Advising Information for Students in Structural Engineering and Mechanics

Course NumberCourse Name
CE 515Advanced Strength of Materials
CE 522Theory and Design of Prestressed Concrete
CE 523Theory and Behavior of Steel Structures
CE 524Analysis and Design of Masonry Structures
CE 525Advanced Structural Analysis
CE 526Finite Element Method in Structural Engineering
CE 528Structural Design in Wood
CE 529FRP Strengthening and Repair of Concrete Structures
CE 714Stress Waves
CE 718Constitutive Modeling of Engineering Materials
CE 721Matrix and Finite Element Structural Analysis II
CE 723Advanced Structural Dynamics
CE 724Probabilistic Methods of Structural Engineering
CE 725Earthquake Structural Engineering
CE 726Advanced Theory of Concrete Structures
CE 794Advanced Topics in Structures and Mechanics