Letter from the Chair

Pui-Shum Benson Shing
Pui-Shum Shing
Professor and Chair

Welcome to the Department of Structural Engineering at UC San Diego. The Structural Engineering program here has grown from a small group of visionary faculty to one of the top academic and research entities in the field. Our world-class faculty with a broad spectrum of complementary specialties offers rich academic experiences and exciting research opportunities to our students. Being the only stand-alone Structural Engineering program in the country, we focus on civil as well as aerospace structures, and our research also encompasses biological, marine, and naval structures, with a common emphasis on engineering mechanics, materials engineering, analysis, and design. Our research covers a range of structural materials and structural types from nano-materials to large-scale structures, like aircraft bodies, ship hulls, geotechnical structures, buildings, and bridges.

Structural engineering plays a critical role to fulfill the basic need of our societies for safe and sustainable built environments and transportation means. The research of our faculty, researchers, and students has provided solutions to some of the most challenging problems in the field. This includes the development of new design and assessment methods to improve the earthquake resilience of buildings and civil infrastructure systems, maximizing the structural efficiency and minimizing the societal impact of a major earthquake event; advanced engineering and safety inspection methods for aircraft structures made of advanced composites; new materials and intervention methods to protect structures and human bodies against extreme loading like explosions and impacts; advanced sensing and non-destructive evaluation techniques to detect structural defects and monitor structural health; advanced computational methods to study and improve the aerodynamics of wind-turbine blades for green energy production, and to predict the response of structures to extreme load events; advanced visualization methods for the preservation of heritage structures; and the modeling of biological structures to understand the nature and help develop new treatment methods for diseases.

The Structural and Materials Engineering Building, where the department is located, has well equipped teaching and research laboratories for geomechanics, advanced composite materials, aviation safety, structural health monitoring and non-destructive evaluation, and computer visualization. In addition, our Department is home to the world-class Charles Lee Powell Structural Engineering Laboratories, which have unique experimental facilities to study the performance of large-scale structural systems and components under extreme loading, including earthquake, impact, and blast loads. The Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, which is located 10 miles east from the main campus, has the world’s largest outdoor shaking table for seismic testing of large-scale structures, a blast simulator, and a soil-structural interaction testing facility. In addition, the Center has unique large-scale experimental setups for the field testing of non-destructive evaluation methods that detect defects in train rails, and for geo-thermal studies to develop efficient underground thermal energy storage methods.

The unique talents and the vast experimental facilities in the SE Department have been a major resource to private industries and governmental agencies. Our research has made direct impacts on structural engineering standards and practice. The department is committed to pursuing excellence in research and public service, and providing the best possible education and training for our students to be leaders in their profession. It provides an open and diverse environment for the faculty, researchers, staff, and students to achieve their best and fulfill their professional goals. Thank you for your interest in our department. I would like to invite you to learn more about our programs, people, facilities, and research activities through our website or by visiting us. Please feel free to contact us.

P. Benson Shing
Professor and Chair
Department of Structural Engineering
UC San Diego