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UNT Insider | January 2011 issue | UNT researcher wins prestigious NSF award to study building design

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UNT researcher wins prestigious NSF award to study building design

From a UNT News Service press release

Doctor Cheng Yu

New research studying cold-formed steel and its applications as a construction material could make buildings more structurally sound and less susceptible to damage brought by natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Cheng Yu, assistant professor of engineering technology, will conduct a five-year research project to study the design of cold-formed steel shear walls and to develop high-performance structures.

Yu has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER award, which is the most prestigious award offered by the NSF for young researchers. The $400,100 grant supports early career development activities of educators who effectively integrate research and education within the context of the missions of their organizations.

The NSF CAREER award holds additional promise in that the most commendable of the new award recipients could be nominated by NSF for the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. Rada Mihalcea, associate professor of computer science and engineering, became the first at UNT to receive the PECASE award in January 2010.

Yu is the sixth professor at UNT to win the CAREER award since 2003. Previous UNT award winners are:

In his project, Yu will seek to study the behavior and performance of cold-formed steel shear walls as lateral force resisting systems, which are composed of braced or shear panels in wood or steel.

The study also will design a testing method to measure how the walls are able to withstand combined loading conditions in mid- to low-rise buildings where the horizontal loads and vertical loads are applied to the building simultaneously, such as in an earthquake or hurricane.

"The use of cold-formed steel shear walls as a structural system is very underdeveloped in terms of design theory, and this project will try to develop a reliable design and approach to accurately predict its behavior under earthquakes and strong winds," Yu says. "We are seeking to close the knowledge gaps about this type of structure."

Yu's project also will study how cold-formed steel, which is known to be recyclable and provides better fire resistance compared to wood, could improve methods for safer and more economical design for building structures and provide better tools for engineers.

A team of undergraduate and graduate research assistants will assist Yu with the project. The educational component to Yu's work involves developing a course curriculum, associated lab manual and textbook with the latest design theories for use by students, educators and professionals. Yu also is initiating a nationwide student competition on cold-formed steel structural design by collaborating with professional societies and other universities.

Since joining UNT in 2005, Yu has received nearly $1.3 million in grants to study cold-formed steel structures, computational mechanics and structural stability in projects funded by organizations such as the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Metal Building Manufacturers Association.

Yu earned his doctoral and master's degrees in civil engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2005 and his bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1998.

Elizabeth Smith with UNT News Service can be reached at Elizabeth.smith@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

January 2011

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