image of bridge, equations, diagram

Structural Mechanics and Materials, M.Eng.

The Master's of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Structural Mechanics and Materials at Cornell University is a forward looking educational curriculum that affords its students with an opportunity to gain a firm foundation in solid mechanics, applied mathematics, computational mechanics, uncertainty quantification, and scientific computing.

The program is aimed at educating highly qualified and well prepared engineers with a firm grasp of the state-of-the-art and emerging techniques in structural engineering and structural mechanics, to support advanced practice within leading firms, national laboratories, and government agencies. 

A comprehensive professional experience, involving: a real-world problem, an industry adviser, integrating technical course work, and resulting in a final written report is a program requirement during Winter Session. Representative themes for the practice experience include: forensic engineering studies and failure investigations, design of signature buildings or bridges, structural condition assessment and prognosis studies, etc. 

Coursework focuses on the fundamentals of technical themes, in order to position the graduate well for a career at the frontiers of an evolving practice. At the same time, the comprehensive team-based professional experience immerses the students in current best practices, and serves to inspire and motivate the student during their technical course work. An additional professional component comprises professional seminars, given throughout the academic year by leading practitioners in the field. The seminar series is run by the students; thus affording them an opportunity to interact directly with industry leaders.

Through the Professional Experience in Structural Mechanics course, students are introduced to career opportunities that leverage the more advanced aspects of the discipline (e.g. nonlinear mechanics, composites, high performance computing, uncertainty quantification, etc.), in additional to the traditional, fundamental structural mechanics and materials course work. By the end of the course, students will have learned about career opportunities available to them at the frontier of structural engineering, and can subsequently enroll in the necessary advanced courses to prepare them for these innovative careers.

The combination of depth in the technical fundamentals and an exposure to the professional challenges accompanying practice at the highest levels, makes this program unique. 

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Engineer as a icon with calculator and toolsM.Eng. Structural Mechanics and Materials Project Example

Students considered a multi-hazard risk assessment of a structure. Students used a nonlinear finite element analysis to analyze to propose a retrofit to a structure subjected to a blast wave from a terrorist threat. They then analyzed how the proposed retrofit affected the structure’s performance in a seismic event, ensuring that the solution to one hazard didn’t create a an issue for another. This type of uncertainty quantification framework is critical in performance-based, multi-hazard analysis, especially as building resiliency becomes increasingly important in a more uncertain climate.

A Practical Experience in Structural Mechanics and Materials



Adam Athas

The innovative program at Cornell has offered me a way to convert the theoretical skills I gained from my undergraduate degree in Physics into more practical skills that can be utilized in solving engineering problems. This program does offer an array of varied and forward thinking classes that will build a strong base of knowledge in the fundamentals of mechanics and structural engineering.

— Adam Athas, M.Eng. with a focus in Structural Mechanics and Materials