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)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 NSF REU Summer Program at UC San Diego has been cancelled and postponed until summer 2021.


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!

2020 REU Summer Program Information

  • Application Deadline: January 15, 2020
  • Program Dates: June 21, 2020 to August 15, 2020
  • Duration: 8 Weeks
  • Funding: $4,000 stipend + domestic round-trip travel
  • Housing: Campus housing is included (worth $2,500)
  • Note: Students traveling by car are reimbursed based on mileage (or equivalent airfare, whichever is lowest), and on-campus parking is included

2020 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
  • Prof. Michael Todd (Co-PI) - Associate Director of REU Summer Program
  • Prof. Alicia Kim
  • Prof. Francesco Lanza di Scalea
  • Prof. Hyonny Kim
  • Prof. J. S. Chen


  • 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
  • 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
    • Letters of recommendation (optional and/or upon request)
  • Women, underrepresented, economically-disadvantaged, and first-generation college students are strongly encouraged to apply

Applications for Summer 2020 are accepted, and the priority deadline is January 15, 2020. To help you prepare your application, you can download the list of questions before formally submitting your application. Applications will still be accepted after the deadline, but priority will be given to those applications submitted before January 15.

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

Selected students will be notified in mid- to late-February 2020.

About UC San Diego Structural Engineering

Students scholars in the 2020 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 2019 UC San Diego and Prof. Ken Loh. All rights reserved.