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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.

heather reed teaching at white board in classroom

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. 

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. 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. 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.

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. Once accepted into the program, M.Eng. students will need to be here in the beginning of August to acclimate themselves, as their M.Eng. project begins approximately two weeks before the start of classes.

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. 


M.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.

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Transcript (PDF)

For additional information please see:

Civil and Environmental Graduate Student Handbook – M.Eng. Program (PDF)
M.Eng. in Structural Mechanics and Materials Proposal Form (PDF)