Adrian Brügger promoted to Director of Carleton Laboratory

May 29 2018

Adrian Brügger has been promoted to the position of Director of the Carleton Laboratory in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.

Adrian Brugger standing inside Carleton Lab
Adrian Brügger

Adrian Brügger joined the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics in August 2000 as an undergraduate student in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his Bachelor of Science in 2004 and his Master of Science in 2005, both in Civil Engineering. Brügger continued his studies in the Department and pursued a Ph.D. in the fields of health monitoring and mechanics.

In early 2008, he was offered the opportunity by the CEEM Department to take over the management of the Robert A. W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory, a Columbia University center with a trifold mission of teaching, research, and materials testing. After a very rich history in structures and materials testing dating back to the late 1800’s, the Laboratory was, at that time, in significant need of renewal. With the support of the Directors of Research, Rene B. Testa and Andrew Smyth, as well as a small core staff, he lead a ten-year $3 million effort to upgrade and modernize the Laboratory’s facilities. The Laboratory now supports 150 concurrent academic users, up from approximately 25 in 2007. Brügger’s team has created a state-of-the-art experimental facility that has been recognized as a showpiece by the Department, School, and the University.

Specialty industry testing project activity has increased by an order of magnitude over the last decade as well. Income from these projects fund the many improvements in the research and testing infrastructure that the Laboratory provides to Columbia University’s academic community.

Brügger has also been active in various field projects focusing on major infrastructure health monitoring, damage detection, and damage mitigation.

Brügger’s research focuses on the analysis of the internal mechanics of parallel wire strands as found in the main cables of suspension bridges using neutron diffraction. He uses neutron diffraction (nDif) as an elastic strain measurement tool capable of penetrating deeply into bulk materials and/or layers of a multi-body system without disturbing the internal mechanics of the sample. He experimentally quantified the development length – the distance over which a broken wire within a bridge cable strand regains near-full service load – as a function of various boundary conditions and failure scenarios. The parallel wire strands fabricated for these tests are to date some of the largest, most complex multi-body systems ever to be measured on an engineering materials neutron diffractometer. A true understanding of the internal mechanics of such systems allows both academics and engineering practitioners to generate more accurate analytical models, which will in turn help to provide move efficient approaches to ensuring the safety of suspension bridges around the world.

After 10 years of tenure as manager, Adrian Brügger has now been named Director of Research of the Robert A.W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory. He has contributed drastically towards the renaissance of the Carleton Laboratory. Adrian has the background, the experience, the capabilities and the enthusiasm to continue along the path that Andrew Smyth has established, and bring Carleton Lab to new heights. On behalf of the entire department, we would like to congratulate Adrian Brügger and wish him the very best in his new duties as Director of Research of the Robert A.W. Carleton Strength of Materials Laboratory.