An engineer who researches the environmental and economic implications of materials selection in the manufacture and lifespan of products, Randolph Kirchain has been named co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) alongside Civil Engineering Professor Franz-Joseph Ulm.
Kirchain is a principal research scientist in the Material Systems Laboratory of the MIT Engineering System Division, whose faculty and students participate in CSHub research with Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering and Nuclear Engineering department peers. At CSHub, he has studied the economics of different pavement types in varied climate and traffic scenarios over decades of use, and on how to estimate the cost of damage from hazards such as hurricanes over the life cycle of a house or building.
“There is a lot of discussion about effective ways to manage infrastructure and sustainable cities. Our ongoing work in the CSHub aims to provide the tools needed to address that challenge,” notes Kirchain, who received a PhD in materials science and engineering from MIT in 1999.
“Randy has done important work that sheds light on how design, materials, and process work together over the lifespan of a product,” says Professor Ulm. “His expertise, informed by strong connections with industry, has guided the CSHub’s findings about concrete’s impact on infrastructure.”
Under the co-directors and Executive Director Jeremy Gregory, CSHub will build on breakthroughs in concrete composition aimed at optimizing durability and minimizing carbon footprint, while promoting a) integration of life-cycle factors into building design, and b) research findings into the engineering of infrastructure.