Pavement, materials specialist named Concrete Sustainability Hub co-director

Sources: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; CP staff

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 MIT-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) alongside Franz-Joseph Ulm, professor of Civil Engineering.

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 efficient and effective ways to manage infrastructure and sustainable cities—and 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 Ulm, Kirchain and Executive Director Jeremy Gregory. “His expertise, informed by strong connections with industry, has guided the CSHub’s findings about concrete’s impact on infrastructure.”

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. Research and outreach activities will continue through fall 2019, thanks to a second five-year commitment from RMC Research and Education Foundation and Portland Cement Association.