NSF REU Site @ UC San Diego

Designing for Safety and Safety by Design

Designing for Safety and Safety by Design

A Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at UC San Diego, Department of Structural Engineering (grant no. NSF-EEC 1757994)

The 2023 NSF REU Summer Program at UC San Diego is currently planned as an in-person and on-campus Program.


The overarching goal of this NSF REU Summer Program is to immerse students in a meaningful and highly interdisciplinary research environment within the structural engineering domain and to teach them that design does not end with construction. Instead, designing for safety embodies: quantifying potential load conditions, damage mechanics, and uncertainties; monitoring for anomalies during operations; processing this information through cyber-modeling via digital surrogates; and translating the information to actionable knowledge for improving current and future system designs. This REU Site will recruit and train 12 to 14 diverse U.S. scholars, working in pairs in a faculty member's lab, for eight weeks each summer to conduct high-impact research alongside other undergraduate and graduate students. Download the flyer today!

2023 REU Summer Program Information

  • Application Deadline: February 1, 2023

  • Program Dates: June 18, 2023 to August 12, 2023

  • Duration: 8 Weeks

  • Funding: stipend + domestic round-trip travel

  • Housing: Campus housing and meal plan

  • Note: Students traveling by car are reimbursed based on mileage (or equivalent airfare, whichever is lowest)

2023 REU Summer Program Overview

REU student scholars will work in pairs and be assigned - based on their interests – to work with a faculty mentor and graduate student in Structural Engineering. Students will conduct independent research while collaborating with and learning from other undergraduate and graduate students in an integrated group setting. In addition to research, students will also be immersed in a plethora of enrichment activities.

Sample Research Topics

  • Cyber-modeling and digital surrogates

  • Damage mechanics

  • Risk and damage assessment

  • Sensor technologies

  • Signal processing and analysis

  • Structural design and optimization

  • Structural health monitoring

  • Structural reliability

Student Enrichment Activities

  • Research and laboratory training

  • Research facility tours

  • Graduate school preparation training

  • Collaborate with ENLACE students

  • Seminars

  • Social activities with other undergrads

  • Faculty and graduate student lunches

  • Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium

Caption: Structural Engineering Powell Labs

Faculty Mentors

  • Prof. Ken Loh (PI), Director of REU Summer Program - Stimuli-responsive and smart materials/sensors

  • Prof. Michael Todd (Co-PI), Associate Director of REU Summer Program - Structural health monitoring

  • Prof. J. S. Chen - Machine learning data-driven computing

  • Prof. David Kamensky - Electromechanics of 1D to 2D materials

  • Prof. H. Alicia Kim - Topology optimization

  • Prof. John McCartney - Thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of unsaturated soils and geosynthetics

  • Prof. Ingrid Tomac - Video imaging, image analysis, theoretical and computational fluid-like dynamics problem and particulate flow and transport

  • More faculty mentors are TBD


  • Limited to U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents (no exceptions)

  • Enrolled as a student during time of application

    • Students transferring institutions (e.g., from two-year to four-year institutions) are also eligible

    • Students must also plan to continue their undergraduate studies in Fall 2022

  • Completed at least one-year of their undergraduate studies

  • Declared majors in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines

    • For exceptions and waivers, please contact the Director of the REU Site, Prof. Ken Loh

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0

    • Preference will be given to students with GPA greater than 3.3

  • Completed online application and supplemental documents, including:

    • PDF copy of official transcript

    • Resume or curriculum vitae

  • Women, underrepresented, economically-disadvantaged, and first-generation college students are strongly encouraged to apply

Applications for Summer 2023 are being accepted as of November 1, 2022, and the priority deadline is February 1, 2023. To help you prepare your application, you can download the list of questions before formally submitting your application. Note that letters of recommendation are not requested nor required during application submission.

Applications will still being accepted after the deadline, but priority will be given to those applications submitted before February 1 with early-decision notifications sent out around February 28, 2023.

Note: You may need to sign into Google (Gmail) in order to complete the online application.

About UC San Diego Structural Engineering

Students scholars in the 2023 REU Program at UC San Diego will conduct research in and be housed in the Department of Structural Engineering. The Department, and its faculty and students, conduct cutting edge research in aerospace, biological, civil, geotechnical, mechanical, and naval/marine structures by integrating engineering mechanics theories, computational modeling simulations, experimental testing, and practical design concepts. In addition, the Department is home to the world-class Charles Lee Powell Laboratories, the Caltrans Seismic Response Modification Device, and the Englekirk Engineering Center. Through these facilities, students and visitors have access to some of the most innovative and productive research infrastructure in the world.

Captions: UC San Diego, Jacobs School of Engineering quad adjacent to Structural Engineering

(C) Copyright 2022 UC San Diego and Prof. Ken Loh. All rights reserved.