Our Structures program faculty have a deep affinity for the physical pieces that collectively form the built environment. Like the rest of civil engineering, mechanics is at the core of this research. The program’s key strengths include earthquake engineering, fire engineering, stochastic mechanics and structural reliability, optimization, and cold-formed steel structures.

The Structures program also spans outside of the built environment to problems and challenges that benefit from the perspective or knowledge-base of structural engineering. Collaborations are particularly common when working across a variety of scales; such as materials with the Mechanics of Materials program or cities with the Systems program.


  • Earthquake Engineering: A wide variety of faculty have opportunities in this area, including multi-hazard performance-based design, development of novel fuse elements for structural components, extending performance-based design principles to new materials, smart structures, and more. Applications include buildings and bridges as well as the broader infrastructure (pipes, towers, etc.) and span from the material scale to the city/regional scale as well as from theory (e.g. in control algorithms) to practice (e.g. in new building specifications).
  • Stochastic mechanics and structural reliability: Structures at Johns Hopkins has a rich tradition that continues today. A distinguishing feature of the work conducted in the program is the degree to which probabilistic methods and uncertainty are embraced in all of the research: from optimization of structural topology to advanced analysis for steel structures. The central role of uncertainty analysis and quantification, as well as reliability, runs throughout the training and research.
  • fire structure
    Structural Fire Engineering: the Department's research interests include performance based design of structures in fire, computational modeling of novel materials under high temperatures, uncertainty quantification, resilience assessment of communities against fire and fire following earthquake, and more. Applications include all types of buildings and infrastructure systems and combine analytical, modeling and experimental approaches. The research outputs span from new theoretical models to the advancement of numerical software solutions and performance based design specifications.
  • Optimization: Optimal design of structures has long been an important consideration, but the emergence of multi-physics tools to simulate structural performance along with multi-objective goals to improve both structural (across all hazards) and energy performance to create more sustainable structures has lead to increased needs in this area. Research in the program is largely focused on topology optimization and other free-form design techniques.
  • Cold-Formed Steel Structures: The Thin-walled Structures Group within the Structures Program provides one of the world’s most comprehensive research experiences in the development, behavior, and design of cold-formed steel structures. Research in this area has lead to far-reaching changes in the design of these efficient, but complex, stability-critical structures.


Graduate students interested in pursuing the Structures Program area should express this interest in their application, and they should be interested in working with one of the Structures-affiliated faculty.

Graduate Admissions »

Program Lead:

Benjamin W. Schafer

Affiliated Faculty: 

Structures Affiliated Research Groups

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