Civil Engineering Professor Awarded Research Grant

University Relations

Michelle Bernhardt, assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, was recently awarded a $40,000 research grant from the National Park Service, the highest single amount awarded by NPS for the year.

"I am honored to receive this grant because it allows me to work with students to research a topic that has always been a passion for me." said Bernhardt, "Working with historic structures is fun because they all have quirks, and we are forced to think within the constraints and existing conditions of the structures."  

The National Park Service has awarded over $10 million in grants since 1994, and this year granted a total of $386,000, with a primary focus of using modern methods to develop or adapt techniques that enhance historical preservation. 

Bernhardt's proposal was titled 'Structural Deterioration Modeling Using the Discrete Element Method' and will aim toward developing an automated system capable of employing more realistic 3-D shapes to improve the way deteriorated historic masonry structures are modeled.

The grant will fund a graduate student who will be working to improve the way in which engineers model masonry structures. There are many historic masonry structures that have been documented using technologies such as laser scanning and photogrammetry; however, using this digital data to create numerical models is currently challenging and very time consuming. This research seeks to improve deterioration modeling and assessment by developing an automated process capable of directly transforming the digital data into 3D discrete element method models.

"We are proud of the work that Dr. Bernhardt has put into her research," said Micah Hale, department head of Civil Engineering. "It's exciting to see her being recognized and rewarded."


Travis Hefley, communications specialist
Department of Civil Engineering


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