Structural Behavior Laboratory

At Lehigh, our faculty strongly believes that students gain a better understanding of structural behavior when they witness it for themselves. That is why Structural Behavior Laboratory is a required course for M.Eng. students during the six-week summer session.

In this innovative class, students learn how structures behave by actively participating in the destructive testing of full-scale structural members.

The class conducts at least six experiments, which may include:

  • Under-reinforced, over-reinforced, and shear failures in reinforced concrete beams
  • Compression and bending/compression failures in concrete columns
  • Bending in concrete two-way slabs
  • Tension failures of bolted steel connections and welded steel connections
  • Plastic hinge formation in steel continuous beams
  • Plastic hinge formation in steel moment frames

Students prepare for each lab experiment by performing calculations to predict failure load and failure mode. They complete the experiment by documenting their predictions, observations, and conclusions in a lab report. The work imparts practical new insights into structural failure modes and the benefit of ductility.


Janelle Heminitz

“The structural behavior lab is extremely fascinating because it allows you to see how structural elements perform. You just can’t get the same experience in a normal classroom setting.”

Janelle Heminitz, M. Eng. Class of 2010



For a look at some recent experimental work, check out our structural behavior photo album.