Faculty of Engineering

Research Highlights

The Civil Engineering Department has successfully continued with research from previous years, adding diverse aspects and topic areas.

The Chair of Material Sciences has focused on research of the piezoelectric effect. As a result of this effect, a material deforms mechanically when an electrical field is applied. This effect is very pronounced in relaxor ceramics. It is shown that this material response results from two competing static phenomena that determine the structural order of the solid on the nano scale. The interaction of magnetic and electrical materials was also investigated. An important effect here is magnetoelectric coupling, which is achieved indirectly in this specific material class via a mechanical coupling. This coupling may be observed in conductive magnetic materials. It has also been possible to show that semiconductor effects have a major influence on the response of this material.

A second funding period has been approved by the DFG for the Research Unit 1509 “Ferroic Functional Materials - Multiscale Modelling and Experimental Characterization” in the Chair of Mechanics. In this unit, the researchers are investigating the coupling of electromechanical and mechanical materials on the microscale in models and experiments. The fundamental understanding achieved in this way can be used to design new materials. In the initial funding period of the DFG Priority Programme “Reliable Simulation Techniques in Solid Mechanics. Development of Non-standard Discretisation Methods, Mechanical and Mathematical Analysis”, two projects in the Chair of Mechanics are working on the development of new hybrid finite-element methods and on improving finite least-square elements for plasticity.

The Chair of Construction Operations and Construction Industry has been conducting research into the implementation and impacts of digital construction and has been consolidating its collaboration with industry partners. The Chair is a founding member of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) Cluster NRW and the BIM methodology was integrated in the official curriculum in association with the Chair’s BIM laboratory.

Unconventional approaches, innovative methods and interdisciplinary solution strategies have enabled the Chair of Concrete Structures Engineering to identify new design possibilities in building construction. New types of roof systems based on concrete structures are being researched and high-performance aerogel concrete is being developed, which is both load-bearing as well as heat-insulating. However, concrete is also good for many other things. The chair has developed gear wheels for automotive applications from ultra-high performance concrete.

The Chair of City Planning and Urban Design is conducting research in an entirely different area. The focus here is on a new climate culture. The Chair is involving the city community by means of participatory approaches as part of a collaborative project involving the city of Essen, the scientific community (Essen Institute for Cultural Sciences, UDE) and business. The transformation process towards a new climate culture in Essen is being implemented as a result of measures taken in city development, renewable energies, mobility and buildings. This approach has been trialled with the aid of tools such as the Low Carbon Index (LCI®) - an indicator system for recording evaluating and optimising city districts in terms of sustainable settlement development — and Energy Efficiency Controller (EEC) for balancing the energy required.

The Chair of Metal and Lightweight Structures has taken the lead in a large group of European experts in producing the Science and Policy Report “Prospect for European Guidance for the Structural Design of Tensile Membrane Structures”, which was published in 2016 by the European Commission. The Chair conducted experiments on different fabric membranes as well as an extensive experimental and numerical examination of the tightening performance of pretensionable screw fittings.