Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded




Hollow-sphere (HS) steel foam is a relatively new material whose cellular morphology and material properties qualify it as a metallic foam. This is an innovative foam-like material that exhibits high stiffness paired with low relative densities. Technological advancements in the past few decades have enabled the manufacturing of this material by a sintering process and, as a result, research has begun to accelerate as a multi-school collaboration effort for this particular work. Even though commercialization has been a challenge for metallic foams, it is imperative that researchers continue to prove and promote the advantages of metallic foams despite the current challenges posed by commercialization. One of the most promising characteristics of metallic foams is their energy absorption capacity. This work explores hollow-sphere steel foam’s ability to absorb energy at high strain rates under a dynamic impact load and builds upon an earlier work of quasi-static compression loading. Since most research in this field has been attributed to aluminum open-cell foams, the objective of this work seeks to build upon and apply existing methods to cultivate new research material for hollow-sphere steel foam. The premise of this work began with experimental research analyzing stress-strain relationships of a mass impacting samples of HS steel foam with different kinetic energies. As a result, material properties were extracted and quantified such as elastic modulus, yield stress, and energy absorption, among others. These properties set the foundation for the next set of research; finite element analysis whose objective is to develop a functional material model that could be used for a later application in structural engineering, such as a blast or crash impact.


The second part of this thesis applies structural engineering mechanics to a complex arboricultural project. A particular American elm (Ulmus americana L.) tree is the focus of analysis due to its usage for tree climbing competitions. Structurally, this work is relevant to structural engineering by involving finite element analysis of a branch of this American elm tree. This particular work has the objective of understanding how a particular American elm branch behaves structurally under a variety of dynamic loads with different input parameters. Before any of the analyses can be implemented, the definite geometry of the tree has to be measured and material properties have to be calculated. Field experimental data are imperative for this project so that the idealized model can represent the real system as best as possible. Following the data acquisition and modeling of the tree, loads that were either measured or calculated are applied. These loads can be idealized as an impulse load and a cyclic load, with variability imposed within each of them. It is within this variability of the parameters within the loads that the purpose of this work arises. By applying extreme loads upon this tree branch, critical points along the branch can be identified by calculating maximum bending and axial stresses. These stresses indicate not only the critical points along the primary branch but in addition, they indicate the magnitude and severity of these potential stresses, which can be compared directly with the mechanical properties of the wood in the branch. The final intent of this work is to contribute to the knowledge of how a particular branch behaves dynamically in order to better equip tree climbers, academics, and professionals by integrating structural mechanics and arboriculture.

First Advisor

Sanjay Raja Arwade

Second Advisor

Simos Gerasimidis

Third Advisor

Brian Kane