Experimental and Computational Mechanics Laboratory (ECML)

The Experimental and Computational Mechanics Laboratory (ECML) was established in 2006 to provide the basic infrastructure (facilities, hardware, and software) required to promote, support, and perform academic and research activities in the field of computational mechanics at South Dakota Mines.

Computational mechanics is concerned with the numerical simulation of advanced engineering problems. It brings together highly sophisticated methods of structural and applied mechanics, computer science, and applied mathematics, and encompasses numerical methods for application to various mechanical engineering problems. It is now a well-established and growing discipline, increasingly applied by engineers and scientists to optimize existing products and manufacturing processes and to promote the development of new technologies.

The ECML provides nearly 7,000 square feet for a variety of high-end computing activities. The lab has state-of-the-art computer hardware and software, providing Mines students access to modeling capabilities commonly used in industry. The ECML also hosts a small experimental mechanics area where tests can be conducted to validate numerical simulations related to small-scale impact problems.

The ECML has the resources required to analyze complex engineering problems with the help of numerical methods, to perform computer simulations of the performance of a product under expected service conditions, and to predict the results of a manufacturing process under a given set of operating parameters. Expertise offered by the laboratory includes computational solid and fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, thermodynamics, biomechanics, composite materials, and more.

Current and recent research projects include developing novel extremity body armor, testing blast waves on advanced combat helmets, simulating the effects of improvised explosive devices in different soils, simulating complex manufacturing processes such as laser powder deposition and friction stir welding, and more. The application of computational mechanics to these projects is vital. Numerical simulations allow a researcher to investigate physical phenomena prior to the expensive and time consuming process of building and testing physical product prototypes. Collaboration is a key aspect to the operation of ECML. The laboratory regularly partners with other campus research centers and laboratories, businesses such Respec and RPM, and governmental entities such as the Army Research Laboratory.

To incorporate teaching and research, the ECML houses two specialized computer laboratories, one classroom, office space, one visualization room, a small ballistics laboratory, a small meeting room, and a computer server room. A new Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering is heavily integrated with the ECML.