Yarnold named director of Auburn University's Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory

Published: Mar 6, 2023 11:00 AM

By Jeremy Henderson

On Jan. 1, Matt Yarnold, associate professor of structural engineering, took charge of Auburn University's Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory (ASEL) as director.

It's been a good first two months.

"We have won several new research projects with large-scale structural testing to be performed in ASEL," Yarnold said. "One study beat out the top structural testing laboratories in the country. The sponsor indicated that everything ASEL had to offer was a big reason that Auburn was awarded the project."

Everything ASEL has to offer is also a big reason Yarnold took the job.

Yarnold received a bachelor's and master's degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University. Since earning his civil engineering doctorate from Drexel University in 2013, he has been an assistant professor of civil engineering at Tennessee Technological University and, most recently, Texas A&M University.

Both schools have great civil engineering research facilities, Yarnold said. They just don't have ASEL.

"I was very impressed the first time I toured here," Yarnold said. "It was instantly clear that Auburn had invested significantly in structural and geotechnical engineering research.  This facility puts Auburn in the country's top tier of related research facilities."

Opened in 2021, the $22 million Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory (ASEL) is a state-of-the-art 42,000-square-foot facility that includes a high bay laboratory with a strong wall and strong floor specially engineered to handle extreme structural testing loads; a concrete materials research and testing laboratory; wind testing capabilities that can replicate hurricane-level loads; and faculty and graduate student spaces.

The lab allows for elements up to 140 feet long and features a 4,700-cubic-foot geotechnical test chamber within the strong floor footprint — the only such test chamber in the nation included in a university laboratory — that will allow the department’s geotechnical researchers to conduct testing on foundations, anchorages and towers previously only possible in the field.

"My vision for ASEL is that our research improves society by advancing infrastructure resilience and renewal knowledge. I also see the potential for research to enhance our nation’s defense and space programs," Yarnold said. "As director, I want ASEL to produce transformational research that produces societal impact, graduate and undergraduate student success, and maintains financial sustainability."

That's exactly what Andy Nowak, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, wants, too. 

"Dr. Yarnold has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in the field of structural engineering," Nowak said. "He brings in important expertise in structural steel behavior, bridge engineering, full-scale instrumentation and testing, structural sensing and structural monitoring. His passion and creativity will be invaluable in driving innovation and developing real-world solutions with the great resources he'll oversee. We look forward to great achievements at ASEL under his leadership."

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson, jdh0123@auburn.edu, 334-844-3591
Matt Yarnold

Matt Yarnold

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