Civil engineering assistant professor receives $3 million research grant from US Army Corps of Engineers



University Relations

Cameron Murray, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering

Cameron Murray, an assistant professor of civil engineering whose research interests include structural concrete and quick-setting cements, recently received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to research new solutions to structural problems. military infrastructure. This award is the largest single award in the history of the University of Arkansas Civil Engineering program. Murray, along with colleagues and students in the civil engineering department, will work to develop alternative materials for the rapid repair and construction of concrete structures and pavements, heat-resistant pavement materials, new resistant concrete explosion protection and methods for evaluating and mitigating the alkali-silica reaction (ASR) in concrete.

A strength test on a concrete beam

The two-year project will see Murray’s team collaborate with the Army Corps of Engineers’ research arm, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). The site for this project, the 37,400 square foot Grady E. Harvell Civil Engineering Center (CEREC), which opened in July 2021, will benefit greatly from the equipment that will be integrated into the lab. The CEREC facility allows faculty and students to construct and test large-scale structural concrete with a variety of methods, including under impact loads. Murray and his team will perform tests and research that very few institutions across the country will be able to conduct thanks to the CEREC facility and this grant. Along with research conducted at the Fayetteville campus, students will be able to visit the ERDC in Vicksburg, Mississippi and present research findings at conferences.

This advanced concrete research and development project will consist of five tasks, all related to concrete infrastructure.

  • Understand how quick-setting cement behaves in extreme cold and heat conditions.
  • To develop magnesium cement mixes that are more resistant to extreme heat and more environmentally friendly than standard portland cement, currently the most commonly used cement in the world. Portland cement can take up to a month to reach full strength and is responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions.
  • Develop techniques for rapid repair of concrete structures.
  • Investigate blast/impact resistance on self-restraining ultra-high performance concrete.
  • Investigate test methods for the rapid characterization of the alkali-silica reaction (ASR).

Most of the project’s objectives are aimed at military applications, but the work should also apply to most civilian infrastructure. Concrete is an integral part of today’s society. “One thing I always try to impress with my students when teaching reinforced concrete design is how important concrete is to our modern way of life,” says Murray. “It is the second most used material on Earth behind water.”

This isn’t Murray’s first recognition for his research into concrete. He recently received the Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award from the American Concrete Institute at their Spring 2022 convention in Orlando, Florida. This award recognizes faculty members for excellence and innovation in the teaching of concrete design, materials, or construction. Murray is the first faculty member from the University of Arkansas to earn this recognition. To learn more about Cameron Murray’s research, please visit www.camerondmurray.com.

About the Department of Civil Engineering: The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Arkansas was established in 1897 when the College of Engineering clarified the separation of civil and mechanical engineering degrees. The department maintains accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and ranks in the top 10% of civil engineering schools nationwide according to Best Engineering Schools. The department earned $2.7 million in fellowships in fiscal year 2020, while our graduates earn an average starting salary of $68,000. To learn more about the Department of Civil Engineering, visit our website.