Research Opportunities

Doctoral Research Assistantships Available –
Finite Element Modeling of Overheight Vehicle Collisions with
Prestressed Concrete Girder Bridges

Fall 2022 Start

Position Description:
Two Graduate Research Assistantships are currently available to support a funded research project directed toward developing tools and guidance for damage assessment of prestressed concrete girder bridges following overheight collisions. The research will involve high-fidelity finite element modeling and simulation of impacts from vehicles and construction objects on prestressed concrete girder bridges. Both documented case studies sourced from NCDOT damage reports as well as nondestructive field measurements collected at field sites will be used to validate the model predictions for observable and internal damages. Ultimately, the objective of the research is to develop practice-oriented tools and decision-making guidance for use in response to overheight collisions at both active construction sites and in-service bridges. The assistantships are designated to support graduate studies and dissertation development leading to a Ph.D. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The Graduate Research Assistants will work under the supervision of Dr. Nicole Braxtan, Dr. Shenen Chen, and Dr. Matthew Whelan. Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Nicole Braxtan ( for more details on the position and to apply to be considered for the available positions. Applicant should provide a letter of interest that includes a summary of previous experience and career goals as well as a resume. Successful applicants must also apply for admission to the Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree program at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Review of applications will begin on April 1 and continue until the positions are filled. Qualifications: Completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering or a closely related field; preference will be given to candidates with a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering or a closely related field as well as candidates with prior research experience. Experience with commercial finite element analysis is highly desirable, particularly for problems involving impact and/or nonlinear analysis. Experience with prestressed concrete analysis and design is also desirable. In addition to performing computational research, successful applicants must also be comfortable conducting moderate field work to obtain data for model validation.


Position Details: Degree Program: Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering

Location: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Start Date: August 15, 2022

Salary: $30,833 annually Tuition support is also available